The state finals are back at Gainbridge Fieldhouse this weekend. While No Purdue commitments are playing on the final weekend for the first time in quite a while, we do have one target in action, as 2023 post player Xavier Booker is in the Class 4A title game for Cathedral.
We also have a lot of first time appearances in the state finals. North Daviess in Class A, Both Providence and Central noble in Class 2A, both Beech Grove and Mishawaka Marian in Class 3A, and Chesterton in Class 4A are here for the first time.
Let’s take a look at all four games.
#2 North Daviess (26-3) vs. Lafayette Central Catholic (20-9)
Central Catholic has arguably been the most successful program of the class era, which started with the 1998 tournament. They have won a record 22 sectionals and 11 regionals in that time, and this is their sixth state finals appearance. They have won three state championships in 1998, 2000, and 2003. They are back in the finals for the first time since 2017 and have gotten there behind a 14.4 ppg average from Clark Barrett. Barrett’s big brother is a current walk-on at Purdue and his dad is the coach of Central Catholic and former Purdue player Dave Barrett. The 6’5” senior also averages better than 10 points per game, and I would not be surprised to see him on the roster next year as a walk-on.
North Daviess is having a fantastic season, and they survived the always tough Loogootee-Barr-Reeve sectional that seems to produce the state finalist from the south every year. In fact, this is the 10th time the south state finalist in Class A has come out of that sectional. Junior guard Jaylen Mullen is their only scorer in double figures at 16.4 points per game. North Daviess finished the season as the No. 4 defensive team in the state, giving up just 37.24 points per game.
#3 Central Noble (28-2) vs. Providence (21-6)
Central Noble features a player that we’re going to get quite familiar with over the next few seasons. Connor Essegian, a 6’4” guard, averages 26.8 points per game and shoots an astonishing 68% from the floor and 43% from three. We will see a lot of him because he will play at Wisconsin next season. Teammate Logan Gard also averages 12.4 points per game, and they have the largest average margin of victory in the state at 21.47 points per game.
Providence is a bit of a surprise in getting this far, but they have played excellent defense in the tournament, holding four of their five opponents to 37 points or less. Casey Kaelin is theor lone double figures scorer at 12.4 points per game, but they could run into some trouble with Central Noble’s size. Expect them to try and keep this game as a low scoring affair, as that is how they got this far.
#2 Mishawaka Marian (24-3) vs. Beech Grove (21-6)
Marian is a name familiar to Purdue fans, as it is the alma mater of Jaden Ivey (before he transferred to LaPorte LaLumiere as a senior) and more famously Hammer & Rails’ own Dr. Juan Crespo. Ivey was slightly better than Juan at basketball, but still did not get Marian this far during his time. Deaglan Sullivan, a 6’1” junior guard, leads them at better than 16 points per game, while senior Richard Brooks averages 15.5 per game.
Beech Grove got this far with a couple of upset victories, including 62-58 over No. 4 Sullivan last week. Anthony Ball, a 6’6” junior wing, leads them at 15.1 points per game. Statistically these teams are very even at around 64 points per game, so this should be fairly competitive with a decent number of points put up.
#1 Chesterton (29-0) vs. #8 Indianapolis Cathedral (25-6)
Chesterton enters as the state’s last remaining undefeated team and a shot at being the state’s first unbeaten champion since Warren Central (with David Bell) in 2018. Travis Grayson, a 5’10” guard, leads them at 19.5 points per game and he hit the winning free throws last week in their 42-40 comeback win against Kokomo in the semi-state. He is a great slashing guard and a smaller college prospect.
Cathedral has Purdue target Xavier Booker, a 6’11” junior that averages 12.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. He is the No. 38 national recruit in the 2023 class and holds a Purdue offer. Point guard Tayshawn Comer is headed to Eastern Kentucky and he averages 16.4 points per game. Jaxon Edwards is also a 2-star guard headed to Murray State next year. Finally, Jaron Tibbs gives them a fourth Division I athlete, as he is a three-star wide receiver in the 2023 class that holds a Ball State offer. Cathedral is back in the state final for the first time since 2013, when they lost to Ryan Cline’s Carmel squad. They won the 1998 Class 3A title.
Class A: North Daviess
Class 2A: Central Noble
Class 3A: Mishawaka Marian
Class 4A: Indianapolis Cathedral