INDIANAPOLIS | After a 24-2 season that ended with a one-point loss in the regional final, Barr-Reeve opened the 2013-14 campaign perched atop the Class A poll.
From the first tip of its opener to the last buzzer of its 21st game, the Vikings' status remained unchanged, its only blemish a Jan. 11 loss to Elizabethtown (Ky.).
"We've taken the floor every night with the bull's eye on our backs and the kids have handled it just fine," coach Bryan Hughes said at Monday's state finals press conference. "It's been one of those years where we've had everyone for every game. If someone would've asked me to write out how I wanted it go, it's gone that way."
The final chapter will be penned Saturday morning at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where the Vikings (26-1) face No. 3 Marquette Catholic (19-6) for the state title.
"From what I've seen, they're very athletic, quick and have good size," Hughes said. "They get up and down the floor and shoot the ball well. We have to be very aware of their transition game ... emphasize getting back on defense and setting up. If we can get back and keep the ball in front of us, we're very good at guarding. One of the things I'm really proud of with this group is it's defensive effort. They've bought in on the fact you have to play every possession."
Barr-Reeve has allowed an average of 39.9 points per game. Marquette, in turn, scores at a rate of 69 per game and was held in the 40s four times, all losses.
"We match up well with them and they match up well with us," Blazers coach Donovan Garletts said. "We're a little bigger than them and they're maybe a little quicker than us. If there's one thing that stands out, it's how hard they play. On offense, they're a very fundamental, patient team. On defense, they don't try to do anything special, just man-to-man, press a little bit. They don't beat themselves."
The Vikings are led by 6-foot-4 senior Micah Bullock (15.6 ppg.) and 6-4 junior Addison Wagler (15 ppg.), the only double-figure scorers. Bullock gets to the rim, but also leads the team with 59 3s (43 percent), nearly half of Barr-Reeve's total. Like Marquette, it's had its share of heroes.
"It's a group of guys who really don't care," Hughes said of the scoring. "It's been all about the team from day one. Everybody's on the same page."
Located in the small southwestern Indiana town of Montgomery, Barr-Reeve is classic 'Hoosiers,' a place where the team is embraced by its residents and kids grow up wanting to be Vikings. Hughes has won 384 games in 22 seasons there, never finding offers to go somewhere bigger appealing enough to take.
"The community loves basketball and loves its teams," Hughes said. "It's the thing to do on a Friday night. I know the kind of support we have and they'll be here in force in black."