Because of the NCAA tournament last weekend Indiana delayed its state finals a week in order to play it at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, but at least we get a State Finals this year. Technically, three teams get to defend their titles from two years ago too. Carmel in 4A and Silver Creek in 3A both won it all in 2019. Ft. Wayne Blackhawk was the 1A champion in 2019 and, as a result of the IHSAA success factor, is playing up in 2A now. They did win their sectional in 2A last season before the tournament was shut down.
First we get a really good 1A game to start off on Saturday.
TV Listings: All four state championship games will air live on Bally Sports Indiana (rebranding from Fox Sports Indiana) (BSIN) or Bally Sports Indiana Plus, an alternate channel due to overlap with the Indiana Pacers broadcast. Also, South Bend’s WHME Channel 46 will carry Saturday’s games for viewers in the Michiana area. Channel Listings
Webstream: For viewers outside of the Bally Sports Indiana (BSIN) coverage area, a live stream will be available at IHSAAtv.org. For those within the BSIN coverage area, the stream will be available only on delayed basis following the conclusion of the telecast.
Class 1A, 10am
#1 Barr-Reeve (28-2) vs. #3 Kouts (29-2)
Sealing the deal has been Barr-Reeve’s largest problem despite dominating much of 1A the last 20 years. Starting in 2002 this is their 7th trip to the state finals, but they have only won it all once, in 2015. Two years ago they reached the final before losing to Fort Wayne Blackhawk. This could be their best team yet. Both losses were in overtime, one to Blackhawk 75-66, and one to Carmel 57-55. If they, as a 1A team, can take Carmel to overtime and lose by two they can play with any team in the state regardless of class.
This is a clash of styles, really. Barr-Reeve gives up a miserly 39 points per game, third in the state. Kouts is the fourth highest scoring team at 75.8 per game. Twins Cole and Cale Wireman lead Kouts, averaging a combined 43 points per game. Parker and Hunter Kneifel, another set of twins, add another 20 combined. Barr-Reeve is led by Bellarmine signee Curt Hopf. He averages 19.4 points per game and 9.2 rebounds. They don’t have the scoring punch that Kouts does, so if Kouts can play at its pace they have an advantage. Pick: Barr-Reeve
Class 2A, 1:30pm
#1 Ft. Wayne Blackhawk (27-3) vs. #5 Parke Heritage (27-3)
The first of two Purdue signees takes the floor in game 2 as Caleb Furst will go for a second straight tile. His team leads the state in scoring per game at 82.67 points per game. They have also played a tough schedule with wins over Barr-Reeve, Silver Creek, and several 4A schools in the Ft. Wayne area. Furst is averaging 21.5 points and 14.3 rebounds as one of the steadiest players in the state. Zane Burke averages 17.9 to help him, along with 12.9 for Marcus Davidson.
Parke Heritage is a recent consolidation of Rockville and Turkey Run and they are a balanced team. Christian Johnson leads them at 16.3 points per game. Connor Davis averages 14.6 and Riley Ferguson averages 12.4. They are good, but Blackhawk has played a much tougher schedule and has more than held their own. Pick: Ft. Wayne Blackhawk
Class 3A, 5pm
#2 Silver Creek (24-4) vs. #9 Leo (24-4)
Purdue’s other commitment, Trey Kaufman-Renn, gets the third game of the day. He is averaging 25 points and 11.9 rebounds per game and has Toledo signee Kooper Jacobi also playing well at 21.4 points and 11.2 rebounds. Brandon Northern is also a Division I prospect for the class of 2022. Silver Creek is 8th in the state in scoring at 74 points per game.
Leo got here by winning their last two games by three total points. Blake Davison is their leading scorer at 16.8 points per game while Demetrious Allen averages 13 per game. Allen and Zack Troyer give them some size to go against Jacobi and Kaufman-Renn. There is a reason Kaufman-Renn is one of the top 30 players in the country though. Pick: Silver Creek
Class 4A, 8:30pm
#2 Carmel (25-2) vs. #3 Lawrence North (28-2)
Both Carmel and Lawrence North are four-time state champions, and of those combined eight championships, six have come since 2004. These two programs have been the class of the state for the last two decades, and even in years they have not won the title they have been among the elite of the elite. They are also in the same conference and Carmel won the regular season meeting 63-49 on February 4th.
Carmel is Thanos. They are inevitbile. If you trail them by 5 in the fourth quarter it feels like 500 because they won’t turn the ball over, they will patiently wait for just the look they want, they will hit free throws, and they will play tenacious defense (6th in the state at 40.4 given up). Brian Waddell, the son of purdue’s Matt Waddell, leads them at 15.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Junior Peter Suder is the only other double figures scorer at 11.7 ppg, but this is simply a team that always is better than the sum of its parts and will not beat itself. Their two losses were to Cathedral and Fishers, both by a point.
As usual, Lawrence North has a ton of Division I talent. Point guard Shamar Avance is getting D-I interest and leads them with 17.8 points and 4.3 assists per game. CJ Gunn (headed to Indiana in the 2022 class) averages 13.8 per game and DJ Hughes (headed to Butler) averages 13.6 points and 7.6 rebounds. Donaven McCulley, an IU recruit at quarterback for football, also plays big minutes and averages 7.6 points and 6.8 rebounds.
Lawrence North is loaded with more overall raw talent, but Carmel is Carmel. They are a boa constrictor. Their M.O. is to get to the fourth quarter with a lead and then grind their opponent into powder. Pick: Carmel