The Blackford Bruins are 2020-21 Regional Champions after a hard-fought 68-59 victory over the Rossville Hornets. The Hornets came in on a high after thumping favored Rochester in their opener. The Bruins survived a tough victory over Wapahani. The Bruins and Hornets battled for 31 minutes before the Bruins got a couple late take-aways resulting in lay-ups to put the game away in the final minute.
Rossville started right where they left off after their afternoon win, by jumping out to an 18-12 lead with 2:13 to go in the first. That would turn out the be their largest lead of the game. Senior point guard Luke Brown scored the Bruins first 10 points of the game. The Bruins correctly their early deficit in a hurry after two 3s from Dane Baker and Dawson Hundley and a long range bomb from the edge of the center court logo from Brown with 2 seconds left in the first to lead it, 23-20, after one. Brown to that point had 15 points.
Dane Baker had a great first half with 8 points including a 3 that put the Bruins up 27-20. Later, a Brown 3, a Hundley old fashioned 3-point play and a Grimes lay-up gave the Bruins a 12 point lead late in the half and the Bruins seemed to have the game well in hand. The Bruins led 44-33 at the half. Brown had 23 points. Hundley and Baker each had scored 8.
But the Hornets, as hornets do, were determined to make things annoying for the Bruins. Upping the physicality of the game, the Hornets crept back to with 48-44 with 2:48 to go in the third. A quarter that the Bruins have struggled with a times during the season. Hundley and Mickey Waters each hit 3s to widen the lead back to 10 at 54-44 with 1:08 to go in the third. After a Rossville 3 cut the lead to seven, Brown hit a big 3 late in the quarter to send the Bruins to the final quarter up 10.
Rossville again made a run, cutting the lead to 3 with 6:28 to play. The Bruins upped the lead to five and looked to draw a big foul, but a moment of let down cost the Bruins a technical foul at a very inopportune time. Instead of having the ball up five, the Hornets hit the two freebies and had a chance to tie the game. The Hornets would actually have three chances to tie the game, but failed in all three attempts as the Bruins D, as it had much of the day, proved up to the task. Still, the Bruins led by just a 3 with 2:37 to play and nearly 2000 on their feet and cautiously eyeing the scoreboard.
The Bruins upped the lead to five and then used defensive pressure to force back-to-back turnovers leading to lay-ups. First, Scott Winger picked up a mishandled ball and “the big fella,” not known for his dribbling prowess, sufficiently made his way the remaining 50′ to lay it in and put the Bruins up five. Seconds later, the Bruins, on what almost appeared to be the exact same play in the same spot, took advantage of a ball that got away from the Hornets and Baker found a driving Brown for a lay-up to put the Bruins up seven and all but put the game away with 22.8 seconds to play. Dawson Hundley added two free throws with 6 seconds to play to make the final margin nine, 68-59.
It was the first Regional Championship for the Bruins in seven attempts at winning the Regional. The last attempt being in ’91. The Bruins also came up short in ’70, ’72, ’75, ’76 and ’78. In fairness to all those teams, those attempts came during the one class era.
Luke Brown scored 33 points to lead the Bruins. He now stands at 2977 points for his career. He is 25 points of Romeo Langford at #4 on the all-time scoring list. Dawson Hundley scored 13 points. Dane Baker added 8. (Official stats have not been released yet.)
Highlights of the game can be found at the StarPress: https://www.thestarpress.com/videos/sports/high-school/2021/03/14/highlights-blackford-luke-brown-beats-rossville-68-59-its-first-regional-title/4692531001/
It was the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Rossville finished their campaign 18-8.
If the Bruins want to punch their ticket to Indy, they have a tall order in FW Blackhawk on Saturday at the Elkhart Regional. The Braves (26-3) are led by Purdue recruit Caleb Furst. The 6’8″ senior, as he is for all teams, will be the big challenge for the Bruins. No one is surprised to see them at Semi-State, but the Bruins have their own plan. Led by Stetson recruit Luke Brown, he and the Bruins will prove to be a challenge for the Braves as well. Blackhawk defeated Churubusco, 68-55, and Bowman Academy, 68-52, to win the North Judson Regional.
The game on Saturday is scheduled to tip-0ff at 1pm at North Side Gym in Elkhart. Early ticket info was released earlier this morning. It will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools. The Bruins come in having won their last 16 straight. The Braves have won their last nine.
Common opponents and results:
Bluffton: Braves won by 42, Bruins won by 13
Barr-Reeve: Braves won by 9 in OT, Bruins lost by 25
Shenandoah: Braves, won by 7 in OT, Bruins lost by 1 in OT
FW Northrop: Braves won by 42, Bruins won by 4
Those all shared, it is the result this Saturday that matters!
Congrats to the Bruins on the Regional Championship! And a big thanks to the fans who attended, watched on line or listened via radio, and who came out to support the kids when the made their way around the courthouse on the way home. It was a fun day. Here’s hoping for a great day on Saturday!
More info will be released about ticketing once made available by the Athletic Department at Elkhart High School.