INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Carmel almost squandered an 18-point lead in the Class 4A state final.
Instead, the Greyhounds did what they've done for the past two years: They found a way to win. Michael Volovic scored 19 points, and Carmel defeated Indianapolis Cathedral 57-53 on Saturday night to claim its second consecutive state title.
Cathedral cut its deficit to two in the final minute.
"We knew that they were going to make a run, and we were able to keep our composure and finish the game," Volovic said.
Carmel coach Scott Heady wasn't at all surprised that his gutty squad held on.
"They've been doing it all year," he said. "You come into the season as defending state champs, and at various times ranked No. 1, you're going to get everyone's best shot. We were battle-tested and we knew they weren't going to fold and knew they were going to make a run. We finally hit some free throws and got some defensive stops."
Volovic, who walks on at Butler next season, also won the Arthur L. Trester Mental Attitude Award.
James Crowley scored 14 points and Ryan Cline added 11 for the Greyhounds (25-2), who closed the season with 10 consecutive wins. It was Carmel's third title overall, the first coming in 1977.
Jalen Coleman scored 15 points and Garrett Hall added 14 for Cathedral (25-6), which had won 19 straight games. Collin Hartman, an Indiana recruit, finished with eight points on 3-for-13 shooting.
Cathedral sought its second title. The Irish won Class 3A in 1998.
Carmel had defeated Cathedral 60-54 on Jan. 9. It was just the third loss for the Irish since Hartman returned after breaking his left wrist.
Cathedral didn't score for nearly 3½ minutes to start the game.
Carmel made four 3-pointers in the first quarter to take a 21-6 lead at the end of the period. The Greyhounds punctuated their dominant opening eight minutes when Volovic made a twisting, contested jumper from near the corner just before the buzzer.
Crowley, Carmel's leading scorer for the season, didn't score for more than nine minutes to start the game. When he finally did, the Greyhounds took a 26-10 lead. Volovic scored 10 points in the first half to help Carmel take a 30-15 lead at the break.
"They were physical from the start and jumped out on us and we didn't respond well to it," Hartman said.
Carmel shot 52 percent in the first half and held the Irish to 30 percent shooting. The Greyhounds made 5 of 9 3-pointers in the first half. Cathedral made six field goals total before the break.
Hartman was 0-for-4 from the field in the first half. Coleman scored nine points in the first half; the rest of the team scored six points on 3-for-14 shooting.
"We couldn't get anything to fall," Hartman said.
Cathedral started to find its offense in the third quarter, but Volovic continued to have his way. He slashed through the paint for layups on consecutive possessions, taking advantage of Cathedral's concern about the 3-point shot, to give his team a 39-25 edge.
Hartman's first basket came from well beyond the 3-point line at the third-quarter buzzer to cut Carmel's lead to 39-28.
Coleman's 3-pointer with just over six minutes remaining made it 41-33 Carmel and brought Cathedral's fans to their feet. A jumper by Hartman brought Carmel's lead down to four with 25.3 seconds left.
Volovic made one of two free throws to make it a five-point game with 23.1 seconds to play. Cathedral struggled to get a shot off, but Hall got the ball in a scramble near the hoop, scored and was fouled with 4.6 seconds left. He made the free throw to cut Carmel's lead to 55-53.
Crowley was fouled with 3.6 seconds left. He made both free throws to seal the win for the Greyhounds.
"They played like themselves for 32 minutes and we did not," Cathedral coach Andy Fagan said. "All of the credit goes to them for being the team that was able to put together a full 32 minutes. It took us a little bit to get going and that part, obviously, we were disappointed with, and we talked about the importance of coming out and playing a full 32 minutes and how important that was going to be."