INDIANAPOLIS | The Greensburg Pirates are state champions for the first time in school history. And Saturday night's Class 3A win didn't come easy.
Bryant McIntosh scored the go-ahead layup with 1:09 left to play in overtime to give the Pirates a 70-69 lead. They stayed ahead the rest of the way and went on to win 73-70 over the Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran Cadets.
"I thought I had to be a little more aggressive," McIntosh said. "I definitely had to step up a little bit."
McIntosh ended the game with 26 points, six rebounds and four assists, bringing Greensburg (26-1) back after being down most of the game. He hit a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left in regulation to even the score at 68 and force overtime.
"I was confident enough in my jump shot that I could step into that and knock it down," McIntosh said. "(The defender) stepped back a couple of steps and so I pulled it and it felt good coming out of my hand."
Sean Sillers had 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Pirates, and Ryan Welage had 16 points. Greensburg hadn't made a trip to the state finals since 1931.
D.J. McCall had 17 points for the Cadets (23-5), who made their first-ever state finals appearance. Ryan Gross had 14 points and eight assists.
The Pirates went into the game beating teams by 25.3 points, but didn't take the lead until the 2:20 mark in overtime when Welage split from the free-throw line to make it 66-65.
Even when the Pirates took the lead, they never did pull away by much. When the overtime period ended, they were state champs for the first time ever.
"I know there was a lot of Pirate faithful who were waiting for this moment for a long, long, long time," Greensburg coach Stacy Meyer said.
It wasn't just the school's first state title. It was a first for Meyer, who played his high school days for the Pirates. He got a taste of the state finals in 2003 when his Southwestern (Shelbyville) team finished runner-up in the Class A state finals.
"In '03 we were runner-up and that was hard to swallow," Meyer said. "As a coach, you never know if you're going to get back. I've been fortunate enough to coach a great group of kids to get back here."
With the Pirates' ability to take such a lead, keeping them under control was a concern for the Cadets.
"That was one of the focuses," Cadets coach Josh Eggold said. "In the first half we felt like we had met that challenge, but knew there was another half to play. They're a very good team. We respectfully give them a salute as champions."
The Cadets made it tough on the Pirates. They built a 31-21 lead at halftime and held the Pirates to 32 percent shooting in the first two quarters.
"I think early on defensively, they were very physical with us," Meyer said. "They denied the basketball. I think just their physical presence, and we haven't met that kind of length."