They came so close.
The Providence boys’ basketball team led by as many as nine points and were neck-and-neck with Park Tudor through three quarters. But the defending Class 2A state champions opened the final stanza on a 12-2 run and downed Pioneers, 62-49 at the Class 2A Southport Semistate on Saturday.
“In the end, the other team made more plays than we did when it came down to it,” Providence (22-4) coach Lou Lefevre said. “The momentum swung their way, they kept it (and) we never quite got it back. That’s why they won.”
Providence looked like the more comfortable team on the floor through much of the contest. After taking a 24-21 lead into halftime, the Pioneers opened the second half on a 6-0 run, prompting a full timeout from the Park Tudor (24-2) bench. When the action resumed, the top-ranked Panthers switched from their 2-3 zone to a half-court trap, and the Pioneers struggled to create looks and take care of the ball.
“(During the timeout) I said, ‘Our backs are to the wall. We’re going to have to play. We’re going to have to make defensive plays,’” Park Tudor coach Ed Schilling said. “We went to our half-court trap and really tried to just use our speed a little bit to try and get some steals, and we were fortunate to do that. They are a fantastic team, as good as any team we’ve played, and we were fortunate to get some steals.”
The Panthers could do very little wrong on offense in the second half. The defending champs shot 80 percent from the field in the final two frames, including 4-of-8 from 3-point land. McDonald’s All-American and Indiana University recruit Yogi Ferrell took over the fourth quarter with 10 of his 23 points, while sophomore standout Trevon Bluiett poured in 20 of his game-high 26 points in the second half.
“They have two stars that score more than everybody else, and you always want to stop their stars in Ferrell and Bluiett, and Ferrell hit 9-of-12 and Bluiett hit 8-of-11,” Lefevre said. “We didn’t make them miss enough to get a chance to win the game. So that was the issue there.”
Meanwhile, Providence’s offense sputtered in the fourth quarter. The Pioneers struggled mightily against the trap, coughing up the ball four times in the fourth quarter and missing all but two of their 10 second-half 3-point attempts.
“It affected the attitude of both teams, ours for the worse and theirs for the better. When they got that momentum burst, it’s, ‘Can we stop it?’ And the answer was, well, we kind of kept it at bay and we got to the fourth quarter tied, and it became a one-quarter game,” Lefevre said. “But in the end, we could not handle their half-court press, and our offense broke down, and that got them excited and they made plays at the end and they won the game. Once they got the lead, they knew how to stretch us out and put us away.”
Providence’s frontcourt trio of George Knott, Dalton Duley and Ryan Pickerrell scored the majority of the team’s points. Pickerrell led the team with 13 points, while Duley added 12 and Knott put in 11. Duley was 7-for-8 from the free-throw line.
Providence showed signs of being jittery early in the contest. The Pioneers coughed up the ball seven times in the first quarter, but rebounding kept the team in the game. Providence outrebounded Park Tudor 16-6 in the first half, with seven of those boards coming on the offensive glass.
“I was so impressed with their execution on the offensive end,” Schilling said. “We knew they were a good defensive team. But I thought their execution on offense was fabulous, and the way they went to the offensive glass — we haven’t given up that many offensive rebounds. I say given up, and it wasn’t given up — they took them. They did a great job.”
Providence says goodbye to three seniors in starting guards Colin Daly and Bryce Very, as well as reserve guard Aaron Shahroudi.
“I don’t know what else to say except I think my team is a great team,” Lefevre said. “I knew they would put forward a terrific effort. I knew they would have a chance to win the game. I wasn’t thinking we’ll definitely win the game. I knew we’d have a chance. I knew they were tough enough. I knew they were good enough and smart enough to have a chance. They did give themselves a chance. In the end, the other team made more plays than we did when it came down to it.”
Park Tudor will face fifth-ranked Bowman Academy in the Class 2A state championship game at approximately 12:45 p.m. next Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
PARK TUDOR 11 10 19 22—62
PROVIDENCE 10 14 16 9—49
Park Tudor (24-2) — Ferrell 23, Bayt 3, Bluiett 26, Spears 4, Tannenbaum 4, Rapp 2.
Providence (22-4) — Daly 8, Very 0, Pickerrell 13, Knott 11, Duley 12, Grantz 2, Shahroudi 3.
3-point field goals — Park Tudor 6 (Bluiett 5, Bayt); Providence 4 (Daly 2, Duley, Shahroudi).
Free throws — Park Tudor 10-12, Providence 11-12.
Rebounds — Park Tudor 17 (Bluiett 5); Providence 21 (Very 6).
Assists — Park Tudor 9 (Ferrell 6); Providence 13 (Very 3).
Turnovers — Park Tudor 12, Providence 17.
Field-goal shooting — Park Tudor 23-37, Providence 17-40.
3-point shooting — Park Tudor 6-15, Providence 4-15.