Kyle Neddenriep Indianapolis Star
Published 5:34 PM EDT Mar 10, 2019
It probably goes without saying, but I will anyway: How about the dominance of the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference?
We have come to expect it in football, where one of the MIC powers wins a Class 6A state title every year. Ben Davis has won two, Warren Central two, Carmel one and Center Grove one since a sixth class was added in 2013. Four of those six championships have been MIC vs. MIC.
Sure, you might say, the MIC should win a lot. The four largest schools in the state (Carmel, Ben Davis, Warren Central and North Central) are MIC schools. Pike (eighth), Lawrence North (16th), Center Grove (17th) and Lawrence Central (23rd) are not far behind in size. There are a lot of athletes to choose from.
But in boys basketball, this year has really been something. Three of the four teams still standing in Class 4A are from the MIC. Top-ranked Carmel (24-1) will play Penn (24-3) in the North semistate at Lafayette Jeff on Saturday. The all-MIC South semistate at Washington will match Ben Davis (19-7) against Center Grove (21-8), two programs that finished tied for sixth in the conference with matching 2-5 league records.
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“Every Friday night is a challenge in the MIC,” Carmel coach Ryan Osborn said. “These guys have been tested by the best all year long.”
This is not exactly a new phenomenon in boys basketball. Since the MIC was formed in 1996, North Central (1999 and 2010) has two state titles, Lawrence North (2004, ’05, ’06) has three, Carmel has two (2012 and ’13), Ben Davis has one (2017) and Warren Central has one (2018). Last year, Warren Central defeated Carmel in an all-MIC state finals.
“There’s no doubt in my mind the MIC is the best conference in the Midwest,” Carmel guard Luke Heady said. “It prepares you for anything.”
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Other than young and rebuilding North Central, which finished 7-17 overall and winless in the MIC, the conference was as tough as ever from one through seven. Consider this: the MIC is 14-0 in the tournament against non-MIC teams. The five teams no longer playing were all knocked out by MIC teams. Ben Davis defeated two (Pike in the sectional and Lawrence Central in the regional semifinal), Lawrence Central two (North Central and Warren Central in the sectional) and Warren Central one (Lawrence North in the sectional).
The only team to go 3-0 against the remaining MIC teams? Brownsburg of the Hoosier Crossroads Conference. The Bulldogs knocked off Ben Davis, Carmel and Center Grove during the regular season.
>> End of line for Thompson: Isaiah Thompson left the court for the final time as a Zionsville Eagle with 33.7 seconds left in his team’s 53-39 loss to Class 4A top-ranked Carmel in the Logansport regional championship.
Before he left the court, Carmel senior Karsten Windlan had a few words for him.
“I told him he had a really good career and to go to Purdue and ball out,” Windlan said. “That’s a really good player right there.”
Thompson was limited to 12 points in the loss to Carmel, well below his season average of 23.3 points per game. Combined with his 24 points in Zionsville’s 52-41 win over Huntington North in Saturday’s regional semifinal, Thompson finished his high school career with 2,139. That total ties Thompson with Lebanon’s Rich Mount for 27th on the state’s all-time list.
“I feel like I had a great four years,” Thompson said. “Obviously I wanted to win a state championship and I felt like we had a good opportunity, but we just ran into a team that was better than us. They were better than us tonight.”
Thompson and the senior class, which also includes 6-6 standout Nathan Childress, led Zionsville to four consecutive Hoosier Crossroads Conference championships and the back-to-back sectional titles for the first time since 1958 and ’59.
“To see it end now is hard,” Thompson said. “But I know I have better things in front of me.”
Zionsville coach Shaun Busick made a pitch for the Purdue recruit as IndyStar Mr. Basketball, presented by the Indiana Fever, after Saturday’s loss.
“I think Isaiah is Mr. Basketball,” Busick said. “I don’t think there is any question about it. I’m proud to have coached him and not just because he is a great player. There are a lot of great players. But because he was an even better individual and his family is fantastic. I’m very proud to be associated with him.”
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Though Thompson certainly has a strong case, Center Grove’s Trayce Jackson-Davis might have put an exclamation point on his bid on Saturday. The 6-9 Indiana recruit had 20 points and 11 rebounds in a 65-40 win over Jasper in the regional semifinal at Seymour and followed with a 40-point, 12-rebound effort in a 64-41 win over Bloomington South in the championship game.
>> Jumpshots: One of the more impressive performances of the regional came from Jayden Brewer. The 6-4 Avon sophomore is lanky and light, but is going to be a good one. Brewer had 24 points and seven steals in Avon’s 64-59 loss to New Palestine in the regional semifinal at Southport. … Speaking of New Pal, the Dragons (19-9) have something to build on for next year despite losing some key pieces like Matthew True and Dylan Romine. New Pal won a regional game for the first time since 1989 and will have a core group returning, led by Maximus Gizzi, Dawson Eastes, Kyle King, Eric Roudebush and Maxen Hook. … There is always considerable griping over the semistate assignments and the travel distances. I wonder how many of those griping also are in favor of seeding the tournament, which would also result in more travel. You can’t have everything.
Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.
SATURDAY’S IHSAA SEMISTATE PAIRINGS
At Lafayette Jeff
Class 2A: Frankton (25-3) vs. Andrean (19-8), 1 p.m.
Class 4A: Carmel (24-1) vs. Penn (24-3), 3:30 p.m.
At Elkhart Central (North Side gym)
Class A: Lafayette Central Catholic (24-4) vs. FW Blackhawk Christian (26-2), 4 p.m.
Class 3A: Marion (19-7) vs. Culver Academies (23-3), 6 p.m.
Class 2A: Linton-Stockton (26-3) vs. Shenandoah (26-1), 1 p.m.
Class 3A: Silver Creek (23-3) vs. Crispus Attucks (20-8), 3 p.m.
Class A: Barr-Reeve (25-2) vs. Bloomfield (20-7), 4 p.m.
Class 4A: Center Grove (21-8) vs. Ben Davis (19-7), 6 p.m.
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