INDIANAPOLIS | If time is a great healer, that's what it will take for Bishop Noll's boys basketball team. Some ticks here and some tocks there will help.
As the second hand continues to slowly spin away from Saturday's 43-42 loss to Indianapolis Park Tudor in the Class 2A state championship game, the Warriors will understand how great of a winter they all experienced.
"I'll never forget how I feel right now," said Noll senior Adonis Filer, who had a team-high 19 points in the loss. "I'll think about the things we could've done better to change this. But when we look back at this (years from now) we'll see what a great year we all had."
The ending was great and painful all at once. With the Panthers overplaying Filer, Noll coach Drew Trost came up with a play with 13 seconds left to get junior Ronnye Beamon the ball in the middle of the lane. He grabbed the pass and went up strong. The ball danced around the rim for several moments before falling out.
Both Beamon and Filer were on the ground grasping for the ball and trying to call a timeout as the buzzer sounded.
That's when the Panthers exploded in celebration as the Warriors collapsed in despair.
"I've made that shot so many times," Beamon said. "I thought it was going in. It was that close."
Noll was 26-0 and ranked No. 2 in the state. The Warriors were the first undefeated regular season team since the 1955-56 team. That team lost to Hammond in the sectional final. This team ran the table to Indianapolis and were the only undefeated team of eight to play at Conseco Fieldhouse on Saturday.
"This hurts right now," Trost said. "But I'm so proud of these guys."
Filer scored 10 points in the opening quarter. But that's when Park Tudor coach Ed Schilling put in a plan to slow down the game. His trapping half-court zone defense made an even more concerted effort to keep Filer away from the basket. And it worked. Filer was 3 of 10 from the field in the second half and did not get a shot in Noll's last two possessions in the final 22 seconds of the game.
"What a great performance," Schilling said. "It's a shame someone had to lose it."
Last March, in a game with a similar feel and tone, Wheeler beat Park Tudor, 41-38. In that game, the Panthers' Yogi Ferrell missed two 3-pointers in the final seconds that would've forced an extra session.
This time it was the team from Northwest Indiana shooting the game's final shots. Had Beamon's shot dropped, though, Noll would've become the region's third undefeated state champ in boys hoops.
Noll trailed 5-4 with 5:23 left in the first quarter. The Warriors got their lead out to nine. The Panthers did not regain the lead until 1:22 remained in the game on Trevon Bluiett's rebound and layup. He was fouled on the shot and his free throw ended up being the difference.
In a defensive game where points were hard to come by, Noll led 40-35 with less than five minutes remaining. A shot here or a shot there and the scoreboard would've been tilted in a different direction.
"We had a great year," Filer said. "I'm just always going to feel like we should've won the game."