By Daniel Massa | Pacers.com
The Indiana Pacers will honor the eight Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) 2017 state basketball champions during Thursday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks during the final “Hickory Night” of the season. Continue reading to learn more about each state champion. (Note: All quotes are from the Indianapolis Star)
Four girls state champions were crowned on Feb. 25 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, including two schools winning their first state title in any sport and one winning its first girls basketball championship.
Class A: Wood Memorial 68, Union City 43
Wood Memorial, located in Oakland City and coached by Johnnie Bartley, defeated Union City 68-43 to take home the Class A title and finish the season 28-1. The Trojans’ victory was Wood Memorial’s first state title in any sport.
Boasting four senior starters, Wood Memorial wore down Union City throughout the game, especially on the boards, where the Trojans posted a 46-23 rebounding advantage.
Class 2A: Eastern (Pekin) 42, Oak Hill 31
The Class 2A title game also featured a school winning its first-ever state championship. Eastern High School, in Pekin, defeated Oak Hill 42-31. The 2016-17 season was a season of firsts for Eastern, as the Musketeers not only won their school’s first state title, but also won the girls basketball program’s first regional and semi-state titles along the way.
“We’re going to do a good job of celebrating this one for as long as we can,” Eastern head coach Mike McBride said. “It might be December before we get focused again.”
Class 3A: South Bend St. Joseph 57, North Harrison 49
In Class 3A, South Bend St. Joseph defeated North Harrison 57-49 to win the program’s second state championship. The game was a defensive struggle, with both teams shooting below 37 percent from the field.
The Indians’ coaching staff, comprised of head coach Sydney Smallbone and assistants Melissa Lechlitner and Kristin Dockery, were all members of St. Joseph’s 2005 state championship team. Smallbone became the first person to win an Indiana girls state title as both a player and head coach.
“It took every single player on our team buying in and investing,” Smallbone said about this year’s team, which finished the season 26-2.
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Class 4A: Homestead 61, Pike 54
To finish out the night, Homestead (Fort Wayne) defeated Pike (Indianapolis) 61-54 in the Class 4A title game. The game featured nine lead changes and neither team led by more than eight points throughout the contest.
Although the win marked Homestead’s first girls basketball state title, The Fieldhouse was not unfamiliar territory; the Spartans were state runner-ups in 2015, helping to set the goal of winning it all in the future.
“This team played through a lot of expectations,” Homestead head coach Rod Parker said.
“To be able to get it done under the pressure and expectations they played through is special.”
The boys state finals, held on March 25 at The Fieldhouse, had a strong local presence and were full of late-game drama. Three of the four champions hailed from Indianapolis and each of those three teams won by three points or less.
Class A: Tindley 51, Lafayette Central Catholic 49
In the Class A final, Indianapolis’ Tindley Academy defeated Lafayette Central Catholic 51-49. The Tigers hit a shot in the final seconds and stole LCC’s inbounds pass to seal the victory, Tindley’s first state championship in any sport.
It was an evenly matched game with four ties and five lead changes, and each team’s largest lead was just six points. The Tigers finished the season 24-5.
“I’m just so happy,” Tindley head coach Bob Wonnell said after the game. “I’ve been in team sports since seventh grade and we’ve never finished my year like this where we won our last game. It’s amazing. We did it.”
Class 2A: Frankton 60, Crawford County 32
The Class 2A final involved an historic defensive performance as Frankton defeated Crawford County 60-32. Frankton recorded 19 steals, an all-class record in state championship games, and the 32 points were the fewest allowed in a Class 2A final.
“Obviously this ranks up there defensively for us,” Frankton head coach Brent Brobston said. “Our kids knew what they had to do to win the game. The came out, competed and played hard, and did exactly what we had planned. In the state-championship game you expect your players to step up defensively. It’s a credit to our kids and how well they played defensively.”
This was Frankton’s second trip to the state finals in three years, as the Eagles fell to Park Tudor in 2015. Frankton finished the season 23-6.
Class 3A: Crispus Attucks 73, Twin Lakes 71
The Class 3A final included more last-second drama and saw one of the country’s most historic programs once again reach the pinnacle of high school basketball.
Indianapolis’ Crispus Attucks, which became the first all-black school in America to win an open state title in 1955, defeated Twin Lakes 73-71 on a putback layup as the clock wound down.
It was a back-and-forth game with seven ties and nine lead changes, and Twin Lakes led by as many as nine late in the third quarter, but Attucks fought back.
The team, which finished the season 25-4, won the school’s first state championship since 1959 with Attucks and NBA legend Oscar Robertson—among many other former Tigers from that era—in attendance.
Robertson donned the team with their championship medals during the postgame ceremony.
Class 4A: Ben Davis 55, Fort Wayne North Side 52
To round out the festivities, Indianapolis’ Ben Davis defeated Forth Wayne North Side 55-52 in the Class 4A championship.
The Giants, who finished the season 23-5 and on a 14-game win streak, took home their third boys basketball championship in their first finals appearance since winning back-to-back titles in 1995 and ’96.
They prided themselves all season on winning with a team-first mentality.
“We’ve been nameless and faceless all year. It’s not one or two guys,” Giants coach Mark James said. “It’s been a team effort all year. That’s what we’ve talked about since day one.”