Today was the final step for eight teams to reach next week’s state finals at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. We have a couple of familiar faces, some newcomers, and one Purdue target still alive after a great semi-state round.
Chesterton 42, Kokomo 40
The state’s last undefeated team and No. 1 ranked squad in class 4A showed a ton of poise behind guard Travis Grayson. Kokomo was in control with roughly four minutes left, leading 40-34, but Chesterton turned up its defensive pressure and did not allow a point the rest of the way. Grayson was able to regularly get to the free throw line, hitting 15 of 16 and finishing with 27 points. His two free throws with 7.4 seconds left were the difference, but Kokomo was not done. Shayne Spear was fouled on a drive with 1.4 seconds left, but missed the first free throw. He intentionally missed the second, and the rebound was tipped out of bounds with 0.4 seconds left. With the last gasp Spear was able to get off a catch and shoot three from the corner, but it was short, giving the win to Chesterton.
Purdue target Flory Bidunga for Kokomo was limited in the second quarter with foul trouble and had to miss the first four minutes of the fourth with four fouls, but he as still a force. He had 11 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks in 21 minutes. Kokomo 6 of 14 free throw shooting was a huge difference, while Chesterton was 23 of 28.
It is the first state finals appearance for Chesterton, who is 29-0.
Cathedral 61, Bloomington North 55
Cathedral returns to the state finals for the first time since 2013, when they lost to Ryan Cline and Carmel. Jalen Coleman-Lands played in that 2013 state title game as a sophomore and is somehow still playing college basketball. Bloomington North pushed them late, but Cathedral was able to hang on and advance. Xavier Booker, a 2023 Purdue target, broke a late 53-53 tie and Cathedral was able to pull away late.
Mishawaka Marian 74, Leo 63
Leo was denied a return trip to the state finals and Marian books its first ever trip. Richard Brooks had 29 points for Marian and Deagan Sullivan had 24. Caedmon Bontrager had 26 points and 10 rebounds for Leo.
Beech Grove 62, Sullivan 58 OT
Beech Grove is also headed to its first ever state finals on the boys side. Purdue women’s coach Katie Gearlds led them to the 2003 Class 3A title. Sullivan got it to overtime on a layup with 3.1 seconds left, but missed a tying three late in overtime and the final margin was decided at the line.
Central Noble 54, Carroll 48
Wisconsin signee Connor Essegian had 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 steals as Central Noble reaches its first ever state finals. He is currently in the top 10 all-time in state history in scoring.
Providence 41, Eastern Hancock 33
Providence is another first time state finalist. they held Eastern Hancock without a field goal in the fourth quarter. Max Beatty hit a late three to give them a four point lead and put the game away.
Lafayette Central Catholic 68, Gary 21st Century 65 OT
Central Catholic used a pseudo home court advantage to get back to the state finals for the sixth time and first since 2017. Clark Obermiller had 23 points and 18 rebounds for Central Catholic, while Clark Barrett, younger brother of Purdue walk-on Carson Barrett, had 14 points and 14 rebounds.
North Daviess 60, Jac-Cen-Del 47
North Daviess led nearly from start to finish to reach its first state finals. they feature the No. 3 rated defense in the state and they held a solid Jac-Cen-Del team in check all afternoon long. Jaylen Mullen had 16 and Brendan Stickles had 13.
112th Annual IHSAA Boys Basketball State Finals:
North Daviess (26-3) vs. Lafayette Central Catholic (20-9)
Providence (20-6) vs. Central Noble (28-2)
Beech Grove (21-6) vs. Mishawaka Marian (24-3)
Cathedral (25-6) vs. Chesterton (29-0)