To help celebrate IHSAA boys basketball state finals day – albeit without any state title games being played – we wanted to take a brief look back on the last 5 area teams to play for a state basketball title on the girls and boys side. These are the teams that played for a state title in the last 10 season, including this season where we will officially have no area teams playing for the big wood trophy.
In this quick look back, we will address their impact as well as what the major names from those teams went on to do.
RELATED: Looking back at the last 5 area girls teams to play for a basketball state title
2019 – BLACKHAWK CHRISTIAN – BOYS CLASS 1A CHAMPIONS
Final record: 28-2
State finals score: 60-43 win over Barr-Reeve
What made them special: Their run through the tournament was nearly flawless, save for a Regional morning test. This team made any other Class 1A team look pale in comparison, including their state finals when where sophomore Caleb Furst was dominant defensively in the post. Furst had already been a big time recruit, but he turned his game up to another level in the postseason and everyone else followed suit. Frankie Davidson was the Outside the Huddle Player of the Year and posted the best numbers on the team while Zane Burke emerged as a third scorer and senior Michael Pulver was a no-nonsense, first guy on the floor that always got after the ball.
This team just had fun playing basketball together and it showed. They all played their roles vitally when called on and they loved the moment.
The key faces: Frankie Davidson went on to play at the University of Indianapolis as a college freshman while the team returned Caleb Furst and Zane Burke for the 2019-20 season, where they won a Sectional title and were favorites in Class 2A to win state.
2017 – NORTH SIDE – BOYS CLASS 4A RUNNER UP
Final record: 27-3
State finals score: 55-52 loss to Ben Davis
What made them special: This was a team that really played well off of each other and bought into their roles provided by coach Shabaz Khaliq. The idea that Devontae Kinnie, one of the area’s premier point guards, was willing to come off the bench just of the spark and shot of life it provided to the team is the prime example of that. Like with other successful programs, this group just bought in. They posted the best record in their school’s history and ended a 52 year state finals appearance drought. Their finals appearance was hampered by missed opportunities and a buzzer beater that didn’t fall, but their road to Bankers Life Fieldhouse was filled with huge wins and big moments from a balanced tiered lineup.
The key faces: While the college careers of some of the guys from this team didn’t last, Jaylen Butz has gone on to shine at DePaul where he started 31 games his past season as the fourth leading scorer and second leading rebounder on the team. Keion Brooks Jr. played in the rotation as a freshman at Kentucky and Brandan Johnson transferred to Trine for this past season after a year at Saint Francis.
2015 – HOMESTEAD – BOYS CLASS 4A CHAMPIONS
Final record: 29-2
State finals score: 91-90 overtime win against Evansville Reitz
What made them special: Anytime you can start with an Indiana Mr. Basketball, it isn’t hard to pinpoint why this team was special. Caleb Swanigan was that AND a McDonald’s All-American and good luck containing him in the post. Most teams couldn’t and even the ones who did had another problem. Unfortunately for teams that tried to double down on Swanigan in the post, the Spartans also had 6-foot-9 Dana Batt to deal with. This Homestead team was very athletic and the addition of Jordan Geist to their lineup made them even stronger. Homestead also possessed a full roster of guys who were willing to do the intangible things. Case in point: the sensational steals by Tahj Curry down the stretch of the state finals comeback win.
The key faces: Well you may know that Swanigan went on to a great two-season career at Purdue, where he was the Big Ten Player of the Year, before heading off to the NBA. He was picked 26th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. He has appeared in 55 NBA games over four seasons with both Portland and the Sacramento Kings, averaging 2 points per game in his career. Jordan Geist was a Junior College All-American at Ranger College (TX) before spending three seasons at Missouri; he spent this past season playing professionally in Germany. Batt played at Colgate, making a NCAA Tournament appearance in 2019. Curry now plays at Goshen College after starting out his college career at Ohio Dominican.
2014 – WESTVIEW – BOYS CLASS 2A RUNNER UP
Final record: 23-5
State finals score: 84-57 loss to Park Tudor
What made them special: Coach Rob Yoder’s team had plenty of experience, with their top six scorers either seniors or juniors. The mark of Westview throughout the run to state was its ability to pull out close wins, including avenging the loss the year before to Laville in sectional and knocking off Hamond Noll in double overtime in regional play.
In fact, the most impressive win may have been the regional final over Winamac, a 16-point thumping mere hours after the 2OT marathon against Noll. The state final saw Trevon Bluiett drop 38 points on Westview, easily the star of the show. The future Xavier Muskateer was unstoppable, hitting 14-of-22 shots, including five threes.
The key faces: Leading the way was senior Jordyn Bontrager, who averaged a touch over 17 points per game and went on to study sports management. He was helped by the likes of junior Chandler Aspy (15.8 ppg), senior Jamar Weaver (9.7 ppg) and senior Judah Zickafoose (9.2 ppg). Coach Rob Yoder has remained with the program.
2013 – CONCORDIA LUTHERAN – BOYS CLASS 3A RUNNER UP
Final record: 23-5
State finals score: 73-70 loss to Greensburg
What made them special: For the first time in program history, the Cadets’ boys basketball team advanced to Indianapolis to play for a state title. That made it special enough, but the run to Bankers Life Fieldhouse was nothing short of exciting for this team. After falling to Bishop Dwenger in the sectional the year before, the senior-dominated lineup put together one of the more refreshing runs to state that Fort Wayne has ever seen. There were no egos on this team, simply hard-working, well-coached players that executed throughout the year to the tune of 23 victories.
Losses to Northrop (in SAC Holiday Tournament championship), North Side and Snider in conference only fueled the desire of Coach Josh Eggold’s team to peak at the right time. That it did. It dropped the regular-season finale at home to Columbia City, then won six straight to reach Indy. Concordia led for most of the game, with Greensburg taking its first lead with 2:20 left in overtime. While star Sean Sellers fouled out late in regulation, Bryant McIntosh, Ryan Welage and Colin Rigney combined to score 12 points to propel the Pirates to their first-ever state title.
Junior D.J. McCall, the lone underclassman in the starting lineup, led the Cadets with 17 points in the final.
The key faces: McCall led Concordia in scoring at 17.3 points per game, with the cadre of seniors around him filling every role needed for this team to be one of the more underappreciated local teams to ever reach the state championship. McCall went on to be the Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year at IUPUI and is currently signed to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA G League.
Guard Thomas Starks (12.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg) shot 55 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free throw line on the season. Forward Brian Gremaux was a blue-collar workhorse in the post, while guys like Marq Rogers and Ryan Gross had huge moments in big spots all season long.
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