ELKHART — Concord 2014.0 managed to do what Concord 2013.0 was expected to do, and while some may have been surprised by 2014.0 doing it, the makers of this latest version were not.
"I knew we could do it from the beginning," junior forward Brett Austin said after the Minutemen captured the Class 4A Elkhart Sectional boys basketball title with a 50-45 over Goshen on Saturday, March 8, in front of about 2,700 fans at North Side Gym.
"A lot of people counted us out," Austin said, "but during the summer we played a lot, we had some chemistry, we knew we were good. People thought since Franko (House) and DuWhan (Alford), all of those guys (graduated from a 19-2 powerhouse), we weren’t going to be good, but we were out to prove them wrong."
"We expected this, but everybody else didn't, and that's what motivated us," senior point guard Ramon Johnson said after scoring 12 points, dishing four assists and being hoisted high by celebrating fans as he held the sectional trophy. "Being underdogs kind of helped us pull through."
Junior Filip Serwatka scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Concord (15-8), which will play Monday’s Penn/South Bend Riley winner in a Michigan City Regional semifinal on Saturday, March 15.
Fittingly, Austin added 12 points to help his dad, Steve, earn his 12th sectional title over 28 season as an Indiana head coach.
"This may be the most special one," said Steve Austin, "because we were expected to have a chance in those other ones. I don’t know if that’s true with this one. I don’t think people gave us much credit, and the first two weeks (of practice, even) I didn’t think we’d win a game all year, and I was serious when I said it."
Goshen, still seeking its first sectional crown since 1992, suffered just its second loss over its final 11 games to close the season 13-10.
Senior Deric Haynes and junior Jack Gingerich scored 14 points each for the Redskins. Sophomore Brady Bechtel added 12.
"We're proud as heck of our team," Goshen coach Brian Bechtel said. "The run we put together in the last 11 games is really remarkable from where we were sitting 4-and-8. It speaks volumes to the character of the kids we have in the program."
"I told Brian tonight I can't even fathom how good of a job he has done from beginning to end," Austin said of his counterpart, who mixed parts as the Redskins negotiated a series of injuries this season.
Goshen reached a sectional final for the first time since 2007, when it had a first-round bye, and won two sectional games for the first time since 1997, when it lost its own sectional, but couldn't quite add a jewel that's eluded the program for 22 years now.
The game was a one-possession contest virtually all of the first 22 minutes — including 12 lead changes and five ties —as each team played carefully and took sound care of the ball.
But, trailing 29-28 late in the third quarter, the Minutemen went on a 10-1 run to take a 38-30 lead at the 6:55 mark of the fourth period, then hit their free throws down the stretch, including 5-of-6 by junior Danny McMahon, to clinch the victory.
"Every player wants to be the guy who seals the game, and I'm really happy it got to be me tonight," said McMahon, who swished a pair with 34 seconds left and Concord nursing a 46-43 lead. "We practice them every day and I knew I was going to knock them down."
"Really, the only fault I can find for us is the last two or three minutes of the third quarter, but I think the sectional, especially at this place, is always going to come down to that one point in the game where one team executes and one doesn't, and that was the end of third quarter tonight," Bechtel said. "We were stuck on 29 for too long and they were hitting shots."
The younger Austin's drive started the 10-1 spree, and then Johnson converted back-to-back shots, first speeding coast-to-coast with a rebound, then dropping in a left-handed basket on a drive, those two plays coming after he'd been bottled up most of the game.
"I give props to them," Johnson said of the Redskins. "They kind of shut down the middle, made it hard for us to drive. I just tried to pick my moments where I could run. Transition, that's my favorite type of basketball, running and finding guys for easy buckets."
"Johnson and Serwatka are incredible offensive players," Bechtel said. "I thought if we could hold the two of them under 30 (they finished with a combined 26), we had a really good chance of winning."
The Minutemen captured their second sectional title in the last four years and Austin's second over his six years at the school.
Last season's heavily favored club entered the sectional 19-1, but lost a triple-overtime semifinal to Warsaw.
This season's opened the sectional by eliminating Elkhart Memorial 70-53, then upset an 18-2 Northridge club 67-62.
CLASS 4A ELKHART SECTIONAL
CONCORD 50, GOSHEN 45
Concord — Brett Austin 5-9 0-2 12, Danny McMahon 1-3 5-6 7, Filip Serwatka 5-9 3-3 14, Adam Glanders 2-3 0-0 5, Ramon Johnson 3-7 6-8 12, Jake Kronk 0-0 0-0 0, Korey Phillips 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 16-31 (.516) 14-19 (.737) 50.
Goshen — Austin Woolett 1-2 2-3 4, DJ Ambrose 0-1 0-0 0, Deric Haynes 5-11 3-4 14, Jack Gingerich 5-10 0-0 14, Brady Bechtel 3-11, Alex Hartsough 0-1 1-2 1, Cameron Kline 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 14-36 (.389) 11-15 (.733) 45.
Scoring By Quarters
Concord — 12 7 15 16 — 50
Goshen — 15 4 11 15 — 45
3-point goals: Concord (4-8) — Austin 2-4, Serwatka 1-1, Glanders 1-2; Goshen (6-18) — Gingerich 4-8, Haynes 1-4, Bechtel 1-6.
Rebounds: Concord (20) — Serwatka 7, Glanders 4, Johnson 4; Goshen (19) — Woolett 7, Haynes 6.
Assists: Concord (10) — Johnson 4; Goshen (7) — Gingerich 3, Bechtel 3.
Steals: Concord (1) — Glanders; Goshen (0).
Turnovers: Concord 5, Goshen 4.
Total fouls: Concord 12, Goshen 15. Fouled out — Gingerich (0:08, 4th quarter).
Officials: Bob Filipek, Jay Smith, Kirk Robinson.
Records: Concord 15-8, Goshen 13-10.
Next: Concord vs. Penn or SB Riley Saturday, March 15, in second Class 4A Michigan City Regional semifinal, following 11 a.m. ET semifinal; championship at 8 p.m. ET.