- Northview claims first sectional title since 1988 -
PLAINFIELD -- Saturday's Plainfield Sectional basketball championship game had it all. Packed stands, high intensity, big stakes, quality play and in the end, tears of joy.
In a victory that was four years in the making for seven Northview seniors, and 16 for a school that had been so close recently, Saturday's game was full of redemption and it showed on the faces of nearly every student, parent and fan who mobbed the court after the Knights 45-40 victory over Terre Haute South.
"This feels so awesome," said senior Logan Whitman between hugs from family and friends. "It shows how much the commitment and support from the community has helped us. The fans were great tonight."
Indeed, in a standing room only gym that was nearly three-quarters full of Northview fans, the Knights won for the second night in a row when their shots weren't falling regularly.
The Knights hit just 32 percent from the field (seven-of-22) from the field in the first half but were tied at 18-apiece with the Braves at halftime.
But in the second half Northview played patient defense and got quality shots on the offensive end and pulled out to an eight-point lead in the third quarter to the roaring approval of their fans.
Craig Greenwood hit a pair of shots before Josh Timm hit a floater in the lane and Zach Keyes knocked down a huge 3-pointer to put Northview up 28-20. But South junior JT Hatfield got a baseline basket and high scoring Braves' junior Armon Bassett knocked down a 3-pointer to get his squad within 28-25.
But the Knights would hold Bassett to just 10 points in the game, just half his average, and Whitman would answer Bassett's 3-pointer with one of his own and bring the crowd to their feet with a buzzer beating 3-pointer at the buzzer to put the Knights back up by seven heading to the final period.
"We knew we couldn't panic when they made their run," commented Whitman. His sentiments were echoed by his teammate Keyes. "We knew we'd be all right," he said. "We played great defense tonight and we were able to slow Bassett down and make our shots at the end."
In the final quarter Bassett opened the scoring with a basket but again the Knights answered with a big shot as Keyes hit a 3-pointer from the corner to push the lead to 37-29.
Northview played a very patient ball-control offense in the final period, using the clock to their advantage.
South's Robert Davis hit a pair of shots for the Braves but Greenwood and Timm answered with baskets for Northview as the clock dipped below two minutes.
Trailing by eight points, the Braves applied a trapping defense against the Knights that began to have some effect.
After Michael Shouse hit a pair of free throws, a Northview turnover led to a basket by Hatfield who was fouled on the play.
But as was the case for much of the game, the Braves missed the free throw and South still trailed by four points, 41-37. The Braves hit just four-of-11 from the line in the game compared to seven-of-12 for the Knights.
But the Braves weren't done just yet.
After a missed free throw by Timm, Bassett hit from long range to edge to within one point at 41-40 with only 34 seconds left. The situation got even dicier for the Knights on the inbound pass as Keyes lost the ball out of bounds when a Braves player, chasing the pass, made contact with him.
The turnover gave the Braves the ball and a chance for the lead, but Bassett would miss a shot in the lane and Whitman would yank down the rebound and draw a foul.
With only 22 seconds left, Whitman calmly stepped to the line and hit both free throws for a three-point Northview advantage. Shouse would then miss a long 3-pointer for the Braves and Keyes would be fouled on the inbound play.
He would knock down both with 3.6 seconds left and shortly thereafter the celebration began for a whole town.
"There has been a lot of pressure on us with the seasons we've had," commented Northview coach Mitch Lancaster. "It means so much to these kids to win a sectional for a school that hadn't had one since 1988. To not get one would have been really hollow. These are such great kids."
The victory accomplished several milestones for the Knights. Not only did it give the Knights their third straight 20-win season, but also gave Lancaster his 200th career coaching victory and a trip to the Seymour Regional on Saturday afternoon. The Knights will play in the day's second game, beginning at approximately 12:05 p.m. versus New Albany.
T.H. South (40)
Littlefield 2-3 0-3 5, Talpas 0-6 2-2 2, Bassett 4-17 0-0 10, Davis 6-8 0-2 12, Hatfield 3-5 0-2 6, Smith 1-3 0-0 3, Shouse 0-2 2-2 2. Totals: 16-44 4-11 40.
Whitman 7-13 2-2 20, Timm 3-6 0-1 6, Akers 1-3 0-1 2, Keyes 2-7 5-6 11, Greenwood 3-6 0-0 6, Hughes 0-2 0-0 0, Hoover 0-0 0-0 0, Brand 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 16-37 7-10 45.
3-point fieldgoals -- T.H. South 4-14 (Bassett 2-5, Littlefield 1-2, Smith 1-2, Talpas 0-4, Shouse 0-1), Northview 6-18 (Whitman 4-9, Keyes 2-4, Timm 0-3, Akers 0-2). Total Rebounds -- T.H. South 30 (Davis 9), Northview 21 (Timm 7). Total Fouls -- T.H. South 14, Northview 13. Turnovers -- T.H. South 9, Northview 12.