Sometimes the last step is the hardest. Reaching the state finals is an incredible feeling. I got to experience it in 1997 when my beloved Kokomo Wildkats blew out Luke Recker and DeKalb 69-46 in the Fort Wayne semi-state to make it to Indy. I saw it again in 2011 when DJ Balentine beat Munster on a late three to send Kokomo back to state.
Today, eight teams made that step, including two incoming Purdue signees, as they will both play for state titles on April 3 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Carmel 53, Gary West 50 OT
The Carmel machine rolls on, as the Greyhounds reach their third straight state finals and it could be four if not for COVID last year since they had won a sectional before the tournament shut down. They are now 20-1 the last four years in postseason games, and the one loss was to David Bell and his undefeated Warren Central in the 2018 state title game. Connor Gioia had 16 points, 7 in overtime as Carmel continues to defend their 2019 state title. 2022 Purdue target Jalen Washington was limited to just 4 points for Gary West, but Carmel is a relentless defensive team.
Lawrence North 54, Bloomington South 52
A Carmel-Lawrence North rematch is not a surprise as the two Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference teams have long been among the state’s elite. They were challenged by Bloomington South though, and it was a defensive play by Indiana commit CJ Gunn that clinched the game as blocked South’s game-winning three attempt.
When Carmel and Lawrence North met in the regular season Carmel won 63-49. deciding the MIC title.
Leo 61, South Bend St. Joseph 59
Leo is headed to its first state finals after a mild upset. St. Joe led 35-19 at the half but Leo came storming back. Blake Davison’s basket with 1.3 seconds left was the difference. Notre Dame signee JR Konieczny had 20 first half points, but was held scoreless in the second half.
Silver Creek 54, Guerin Catholic 46
Trey Kaufman-Renn finishes with 15 as Silver Creek moves to its second straight state finals after winning it all in 2019. He is now over 1,800 points for his career and with Kooper Jacobi, the Dragons are favored to win a second state title with him. Trey officially had 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Fort Wayne Blackhawk 88, Blackford 61
Two things happened as expected: Fort Wayne Blackhawk won behind Caleb Furst, and Blackford’s Luke Brown put up a ton of points. Furst finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds to move into the top 50 all-time in state scoring (passing Bryson Scott to get there). Brown finished with 34 points for Blackford to become only the 5th player in Indiana history to reach 3,000 career points. He finished with 3,011, passing Romeo Langford’s 3,002, but coming up short of Deshaun Thomas (3,018), Marion Pierce (3,019) and Damon Bailey (3,134).
Like Silver Creek and Carmel above, Blackhawk is going for a second consecutive state championship after winning in 2019. Blackhawk, however, won in Class 1A and had to move up to 2A.
Parke Heritage 40, Southridge 36
Parke heritage is off to its first ever state finals appearance. Colson Montgomery had 25 points for Southridge as they sought a return to the state finals for the first time since 1986. Parke Heritage got a huge three from Riley Ferguson late per the Washington Times-Herald.
Kouts 86, Southwood 70
In one of the more entertaining games of the day Kouts reached its first state finals ever. Twins Cole Wireman and Cale Wireman power this team, and they combined for 55 of the 86 points Kouts scored. Cole Wireman is officially the leading scorer in Porter county history, while Southwood had their own twins in Carson and Connor Rich leading them after their father, a state trooper, was tragically killed a few years ago.
Barr-Reeve 72, Indianapolis Tindley 25
Wow. I knew Barr-Reeve was good, but this was a complete demolition as they reached their seventh state finals since 2002. They have only completed the deal once, however, in 2015. Their game against Kouts is going to be very good.
State Finals - April 3
Class A State Championship | 10 am ET
Kouts (29-2) vs. Barr-Reeve (28-2)
Class 2A State Championship | 1:30 pm ET
Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian (27-3) vs. Parke Heritage (27-3)
Class 3A State Championship | 5 pm ET
Leo (24-4) vs. Silver Creek (24-4)
Class 4A State Championship | 8:30 pm ET
Carmel (25-2) vs. Lawrence North (28-2)