WASHINGTON — Even after its magical postseason run had come to an end, the Silver Creek boys' basketball team found itself facing one last gauntlet.
This one may have been the hardest of them all.
The Dragons emerged from a locker room in Washington's famed Hatchet House to find a seemingly never-ending stream of fans, friends and family arrayed in a makeshift receiving line, a final outpouring for the journey that Silver Creek — up against its fourth consecutive ranked team — had just concluded.
A huge underdog coming in, the Dragons mostly stuck to the script their followers had become accustomed to, taking the fight to Class 3A No. 1 Greensburg from buzzer to buzzer. Silver Creek overcame an early 8-0 hole to take the lead at halftime before finally succumbing 70-60 to the defending state champion Pirates in the semifinals of the Class 3A Washington Regional on Saturday morning.
"There were a lot of nerves — it's been 14 years since we've been here," said Silver Creek sophomore Christian Reed, who delivered eight points and 10 rebounds despite battling foul trouble throughout. "The crowd was crazy and our fans stuck with us and carried us when we needed it most."
As hot as Silver Creek's fans were, its team was even hotter, turning one of the toughest postseason draws — in any class — into a Cinderella story that raised eyebrows across the state. The Dragons, who appeared to be reeling after a three-game losing streak to conclude the regular season, won the North Harrison Sectional by knocking off No. 13 Madison (55-51), No. 6 Corydon (74-51) and No. 7 Brownstown (37-36) to march into the school's first regional appearance since the 2000 season.
That left a showdown with the eventual regional champion Pirates, a juggernaut that has gone 73-3 coming into Saturday, including last season's state championship with a 73-70 overtime triumph over Fort Wayne Concordia. Greensburg's experience — it was making its third straight regional appearance — and abundance of Division I-level athletes left few believing that the Dragons would find much success.