Lawrence North's Greg Oden (left) works against Northview's Nick Wells in a game earlier this season. Oden led the Wildcats to the 4A state title on Saturday evening.
By STEVE HERMAN
AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS -- Lawrence North's Greg Oden might have had the easiest job on the court. All he had to do was stand under the basket and wait for the ball to bounce off the rim.
The 7-foot sophomore took only four shots from field and hit them all, including three rim-jarring dunks, and finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds to lead top-ranked Lawrence North over Columbia City 50-29 for the Indiana high school Class 4A boys basketball championship Saturday night.
The 29 points by Columbia City and the 79 for both teams were the fewest in a championship game since Milan's 32-30 victory over Muncie Central in 1954, a historic game celebrated again during a ceremony Saturday night.
It was the second title for coach Jack Keefer's Wildcats (29-2), who won 15 years ago with another 7-footer, Eric Montross, in the middle. This time, Oden was the dominant player, especially in the second quarter when the Wildcats built their lead up to 18 points.
Lawrence North, which needed a double-overtime to beat Columbia City by one point in the Hall of Fame Classic in December, never trailed the sixth-ranked Eagles (25-4) in the rematch. The Wildcats jumped ahead 9-0 and held Columbia City to only two points in the first quarter, a basket by Doug Sheckler midway through the period.
A basket by Oden and 3-pointers by Anthony Sargent and Mike Conley then pushed Lawrence North up by 15, and a dunk by Donald Cloutier made it 19-2 at the end of the quarter.
Oden, who was named tourney Most Valuable Player by The Associated Press, scored all of Lawrence North's points in the second quarter, including a basket that gave the Wildcats a 25-7 lead. Sheckler and Scott Moore combined for the next seven points for the Eagles, but Oden finished the period with two free throws for a 27-14 lead.
Sheckler, Columbia City's scoring leader, had eight of his 16 points in the first half but -- trying to guard Oden -- picked up his third and fourth fouls in a little more than a minute at the start of the third quarter and left the game. The Eagles came no closer than 12 points after that, and Lawrence North put the game away with a 14-2 run over the rest of the period.
A fast-break basket by Sargent, two more free throws by Oden, a steal and uncontested dunk by Cloutier, another fast break by Sargent and a basket by Joe Ash made it 38-16. Trent Shively ended the streak with a pair of free throws, but baskets by Brandon McDonald and Conley pushed the Wildcats' lead to 42-18 at the end of the quarter.
Lawrence North took its biggest lead at 48-22 before Keefer pulled his starters with just over two minutes to go.
Besides Sheckler, no one had more than five points for Columbia City. Sargent added 11 and Conley had nine for Lawrence North. The Wildcats' Stefan Routt, who received the IHSAA Trester Award for mental attitude, joined Oden, Conley, Sargent and Sheckler on the AP's All-Tourney team.
added 11 and Conley had nine for Lawrence North. ---
Ev. Mater Dei 63,
By HANK LOWENKRON
AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS -- Evansville Mater Dei used balanced scoring and unrelenting defense to defeat Bellmont 63-45 Saturday night to win the state Class 3A boys basketball championship.
The unranked Wildcats took command by outscoring No. 7 Bellmont 19-6 in the second quarter to take a 33-16 advantage at halftime. Mater Dei, a runner-up in its previous trip to the finals three years ago, outhustled and outfought Bellmont for most loose balls, and took its biggest lead of the game at 45-23 in the third quarter.
Wacey Hall led Mater Dei (21-6) in scoring with 17 points, missing just one of his seven shots from the field. Matt Halbig had 12 and Craig Maier scored 10 for the Wildcats.
Adam Arnold was the only player in double figures for the Braves, leading all scorers with 21. Mater Dei held Aaron Richie, Bellmont's second-leading scorer for the season, to just one basket.
"We knew they had multiple scoring threats," Halbig said. "Their one guy, he was on fire, and we contained some of the other ones. But we just played great defense and rebounded whenever they missed."
Bellmont coach Shaun Busick said his team gave Mater Dei too many uncontested shots and made some bad decisions with the ball.
Bellmont (27-5) led twice by one point in the first period, the last time at 10-9 on a layup by Arnold. But Mater Dei scored the final five points of the quarter to move ahead for good. Kelly Muensterman's 3-pointer put Mater Dei ahead to stay with 24 seconds remaining in the period and Drew Alcorn made it 14-10 Mater Dei on a steal and fast break layup in the final seconds.
Another Arnold layup cut Bellmont's deficit in half to start the second quarter. Mater Dei responded with a 14-2 run, ignited by two consecutive 3-pointers from Andy Reddington and three free throws by Halbig.
Bellmont missed eight shots from the field and had three turnovers during the run, leading to a 33-16 lead at halftime. The Wildcats went on to lead by 22 points three times in the third quarter. They took a commanding 47-28 advantage into the final quarter and the Braves never drew closer than 14.
Mater Dei shot nearly 53 percent for the game, overcoming a slow start in the first quarter to hit 7-of-12 attempts in the second period. The Wildcats warmed up more in the third quarter, connecting on 5-of-9 shots and going 3-for-5 in the fourth quarter.
Bellmont, meanwhile, shot only 24 percent in the first half (5-for-21) and just 37 percent for the game while being outrebounded 31-23.
"Our defensive intensity was really good," Mater Dei coach John Goebel said. "That's what we preached all week, that we'd have to go out to their perimeter shooters and help each other.
"They had some looks they usually hit. Tonight for some reason, those shots weren't going in," he said. "Our defensive intensity was as good as it's been all year."
Bellmont's Jon Zeser received the Class 3A Trester Mental Attitude Award from the IHSAA.