By STEVE HERMAN
AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS -- It took Bloomington South 90 years for its second boys basketball championship. Darwin Davis can get another one next year, and even the year after that.
The 5-foot-10 sophomore scored 17 points and hit two clinching free throws and a breakaway layup in the final seconds to give the Panthers a 69-62 victory over Fort Wayne Snider, finishing an unbeaten season with the Class 4A title Saturday night.
"I think all the hard work paid off," Davis said. "I believe anything can happen on any given day. I'm trying to celebrate this right now."
Bloomington led most of the game but never by a comfortable margin.
"It was close, but I think everybody believed," Davis said. "I think it was just our time to win it."
It was the first title for the top-ranked Panthers (26-0) since 1919 and made them just the 12th team to go unbeaten in the 99-year history of the boys tournament. Princeton, which beat Rochester 81-79 in double overtime in the 3A final, was the 11th.
Snider (25-2), whose only other loss was to 2A champion Fort Wayne Luers, twice battled back from eight points down and pulled within 65-62 on a free throw by Brad Sneary with 37 seconds left. Snider had a chance to tie after a Bloomington turnover, but Carl Miller missed three straight 3-point attempts, and Davis finished the scoring with his clinching free throws and layup just before the final buzzer.
"I had no idea it was going to be like this," Bloomington coach J.R. Holmes said of the Panthers' perfect record. "Unbelievable season.
"Our kids deserve it," he said. "There are a lot of coaches that don't get it. I would have to say the good Lord was looking after us tonight."
Jordan Hulls and Eric Fromm added 14 points each for Bloomington. Sneary led all scorers with 22 points and Reggie Hearn added 15 points and was named 4A Trester Award winner for mental attitude. Davis was named tourney MVP by The Associated Press.
"They were really tough," said Hulls, an IU recruit. "We knew coming in here it wasn't going to be an easy game. We prepared ourselves as well as we could, and I think we did a great job on it."
Snider, a traditional football power playing in the basketball finals for the first time, trailed 10-2 after the opening minutes but refused to quit.
A basket by Sneary and a 3-pointer by Miller brought the Panthers within three points midway through the first quarter, and each time Bloomington threatened to pull away again, Snider came up with big baskets to close the gap.
"We were good enough to win, but we lost," Snider coach Ray Sims said. "We missed some free throws down the stretch and some layups down the stretch.
"It's no surprise that our kids never gave up," he said. "The thing I'm proud of is we took on all comers and didn't back away from anyone."
After a 3-pointer by Hulls put South up 27-22, Spencer Anderson countered with a 3 for Snider, Sneary hit one of two free throws and reserve Cody Sarrazin hit two foul shots to give Snider its first lead at 28-27. South then scored the final seven points of the second quarter, including an off-balance 3-pointer by Hulls that banked into the basket at the buzzer for a 34-28 lead at the break.
Bloomington South again took an 8-point lead early in the third quarter, but Snider rallied once more, tying the game on a basket and free throw by Hearn and then taking the lead seconds later on a pair of free throws by Jonathan Sims, the coach's son.
Hulls and Spencer Turner hit 3-pointers in the final minutes to help South's Panthers regain the lead at 47-46 going into the final period.
Snider's last lead was at 58-57 on a basket by Sneary before two free throws by Davis put Bloomington ahead for good with just over two minutes remaining.
Hulls, Fromm, Sneary and Hearn joined Davis on the AP All-Tournament team.
"We were a little shaken by the crowd," Sneary said of Snider's slow start in front of the crowd of 17,681 at Conseco Fieldhouse. "Coach calmed us down and told us what we needed to do.
"We could have beat them, but they're a great team and they played very well tonight," Sneary said.
CLASS 4A BOX
By The Associated Press
BLOOMINGTON SOUTH 69, FORT WAYNE SNIDER 62
FT. WAYNE SNIDER (25-2)
Sims 3-10 4-4 11, Miller 1-8 0-0 3, Hearn 1-5 11-15 15, Anderson 3-7 2-2 9, Sneary 9-14 4-6 22, Malone 0-0 0-0 0, Lewis 0-4 0-2 0, Sarrazin 0-2 2-2 2. Totals 18-50 23-31 62.
BLOOMINGTON SOUTH (26-0)
Fromm 6-8 2-5 14, Hulls 5-10 0-0 14, Davis 5-13 7-7 17, Turner 2-8 4-4 10, Cooper 3-7 0-0 6, Mulinix 1-2 2-2 4, Blackwell 0-0 2-2 2, Etnier 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 23-52 17-20 69.
|Ft. Wayne Snider||13||15||18||16||--||62|
3-Point Goals--Ft. Wayne Snider 3-18 (Anderson 1-4, Sims 1-5, Miller 1-8, Lewis 0-1), Bloomington South 6-18 (Hulls 4-9, Turner 2-7, Fromm 0-1, Davis 0-1). Fouled Out--Anderson. Rebounds--Ft. Wayne Snider 36 (Sneary 14), Bloomington South 28 (Fromm 9). Assists--Ft. Wayne Snider 9 (Miller 3), Bloomington South 12 (Davis 4). Total Fouls--Ft. Wayne Snider 19, Bloomington South 20. A--17,681.