A dream became a reality Saturday for the Greensburg boys basketball team.
The second-ranked Pirates, who boast the sixth-best offense in Class 3A, went up against the state’s top-ranked defense. The Pirates silenced any of their remaining doubters with a resounding 62-37 clobbering of the Marauders in the Richmond Semi-State. The victory represents Greensburg’s first ever trip to the state championship game in seven Final Four appearances.
Greensburg punched a ticket to Saturday’s state championship game and will play Fort Wayne Concordia at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home to the Indiana Pacers.
In a matchup that most expected to be close and hotly contested, Greensburg made a big statement to open the game. Junior Sean Sellers knocked down a pair of 3-pointers to give the Pirates a 6-0 lead, two minutes into the game. The bombs were the answer to Mt. Vernon’s zone defense.
Greensburg head coach Stacy Meyer saw his third-year starting forward set the tone for the game.
“We got off to a good start,” said Meyer. “Sean hit those two big three’s, and that made us breathe easier.”
After averaging 74 points a game in the sectionals and 73.5 in the regionals, the Pirates flexed their collective muscle on defense Saturday. The Marauders did not score until the 3:46 mark when junior guard C.J. Coleman’s triple cut the lead in half.
Sophomore Ryan Welage answered, sandwiching a Marauder basket with two scores to maintain a five-point edge with 2:40 left in the opening quarter. Coleman, though, scored to make it 10-7 at the first-quarter stop.
Greensburg’s perimeter shooting came alive in the second period. Following a Welage defensive rebound, Greensburg sandwiched another Welage score with two more triples, including two from junior guard Collin Rigney, to make it 18-7.
Junior guard Macy Holdsworth’s 3-ball put his team up 21-7 before a Colman free throw finally stemmed an 11-0 Pirate run.
Marauder senior Stephen Turner, a 6-foot-6 standout forward, imposed his presence to begin a 7-0 Mt. Vernon spurt. After another Turner score, Greensburg had the ball for a chance to score before the half. Sellers went airborne and tipped in a missed shot at the buzzer, putting Greensburg up 23-15 at the half.
The Pirates weren’t even halfway done with their damage. Just as he did the first half, Sellers began the second half scoring with a baseline jumper at the 6:50 mark. Greensburg proceeded to construct a 16-5 run, fueled by consecutive triples by junior Bryant McIntosh - his first points of the game.
Meanwhile, Turner had picked up his fourth foul just 1:25 into the second half.
Greensburg made nine 3-pointers in the game, and Sellers made it 36-20 with his third of the day. McIntosh continued his personal attack with another score, 38-20.
The Pirates’ efficiency continued, thanks to a big rebounding advantage. Sellers grabbed a defensive rebound that led to another Rigney trey, and Welage closed the third period with two more scores, 45-22 at the third stop. The Pirates outscored the Marauders 22-7 in the period.
Sellers described his team’s best quality - its shooting proficiency.
“That’s what we do best,” he said. “When we knock down shots, we’re tough to beat.”
Greensburg held a 17-15 edge in the final eight minutes. Sellers scored seven points in the fourth, while McIntosh put his team up by 20 for good with 4:55 left.
Welage punctuated a 13-6 spurt with a slam dunk, and Greensburg scored the last seven points of the game.
Sellers said it took an effort from everyone to prevail.
“Teamwork,” he said. “We believe in each other.”
Sellers led all scorers with 20 points, including a trio of three’s, and grabbed 14 rebounds. McIntosh followed with 14 points and nine assists, while Welage scored 12 points and nine rebounds. Rigney added his own trio of triples for 11, and Holdsworth chipped in five.
Greensburg shot just 5-for-8 from the line, but made nine triples.
Turner finished his career with 14 points. Coleman scored 11, while senior Anthony Burnett scored 10 off the bench. Sophomore Dan Werner added two.
Mt. Vernon finishes with a 24-2 record.
McIntosh said the coaching staff deserved credit for the win as much as his team did.
“The coaches did a great job preparing us for that team,” said McIntosh. “They’re a tough, physical team. We played really well.”
Not lost to the team was the support of the Greensburg fans, which substantially outnumbered Mt. Vernon’s. McIntosh appreciated the noise he heard from the crowd in blue.
“I hope it’s louder next weekend,” he said.
Meyer said the key to the win was defense as Greensburg held Mt. Vernon to 13-for-47 (27.7 percent) from the field.
“We did a good job guarding, and then we blocked out,” he said. “We took stuff away from them. Today, we were focused in pretty well. We knew what they were going to bring defensively and what they were going to run offensively.”
Fort Wayne Concordia (23-4), ranked seventh, outlasted Andrean 68-63 in overtime Saturday. Andrean finishes with a 22-4 record.
Meyer understands what the win means for Greensburg.
“It’s exciting for the kids and the community,” he said before preparations begin for the title game. “Let your kids enjoy this. They worked very hard. They prepared very well for it.”