And then there was one, and that one worked overtime — actually double overtime, plus another round — to get there.
Tireless Westview's double-OT, 75-64 win over No. 5-rated Hammond Noll in the second Class 2A North Judson Regional semifinal, plus its 69-53 win over Winamac a scant few hours later in the championship on Saturday, March 15, left the Warriors as the final area boys basketball team standing for the season.
The final one standing, no less, in a season that stands collectively among the best ever for coverage schools.
More on some of the teams that made it that in a moment.
ANTHONY'S TWINE 12
1. Penn (1) 23-2
2. NorthWood (2) 21-3
3. Northridge (3) 18-3
4. SB Washington (4) 14-5
5. Westview (6) 22-4
6. SB St. Joseph (5) 18-7
7. Concord (7) 15-9
8. SB Adams (8) 13-8
9. Elkhart Christian (9) 17-5
10. SB Riley (10) 14-9
11. Goshen (11) 13-10
12. Marian (12) 14-9
Last week's ranking in parentheses. Teams chosen from among the 38 making up the NLC, NIC, NSC, NECC and independents Bethany and Elkhart Christian.
Westview (22-4), which was inexplicably unmentioned among the 14 schools in the final AP 2A poll at the end of the regular season, faces No. 7 Cass (22-2) at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 22, in the 2A northern semistate at Huntington North.
The winner advances to the March 29 2A state championship against No. 1 Park Tudor (22-4) or No. 2 Clarksville (23-2) in Indianapolis.
Coach Rob Yoder's Warriors have won 11 straight.
The Kings, coached by former Cass star and ex-Purdue Boilermaker Jon Kitchel, have rattled off 20 straight.
We will, of course, have more on that matchup later in the week, but with each of our other teams now eliminated, here's a roundup, with a couple reflections, on what just some of the top clubs achieved.
PENN: The Kingsmen (23-2) established a school record for winning percentage and came up just short of reaching a 4A semistate with their 57-55 loss to Lake Central in the Michigan City Regional final. Penn won its first sectional in seven years and its first outright Northern Indiana Conference title in eight. With Indiana Junior All-Star candidate Jordan Geist (who had 52 points in the two regional games), No. 2 scorer Billy Doslak and other key players slated to return next season, plus potential help from a 19-1 JV, the Kingsmen are understandably looking ahead to 2014-15.
NORTHWOOD: The Panthers (21-3) set school records both for wins and winning percentage. Their lone regular-season losses were by two against Northridge and in overtime at Penn. A regional comeback effort against Fort Wayne Dwenger fell short, 50-44. The sizzling Saints went on to add the title game for their 10th straight win. It was easy for Twine to see in a game against Westview at the start of their sophomore seasons how special Jonathan Wilkinson and Zach Zurcher could become, and indeed they and the rest of a special senior group ultimately did give NorthWood's passionate student block special memories.
NORTHRIDGE: The Raiders (18-3) tied the second-fewest losses in program history, ended with the school's third-best record overall and ran the table to win the program's second-ever outright Northern Lakes Conference title, each in alum Ronnie Thomas' second year in charge. One year removed from going 10-12, Northridge continually showed an ability to win close games. Both of their regular-season losses came to Penn. Area scoring champ Nate Ritchie and unflinching point guard Sam Ahonen graduate, but three other starters, led by Pete Smith, are among the slated returnees.
ELKHART CHRISTIAN: The Eagles (17-5) easily registered the best record in the 10-year-IHSAA portion of their history, and did so against a schedule that was cranked up considerably over any previous season. ECA went 7-1 on its new home floor. Among the team's five losses, two came in overtime (including the double-OT 1A sectional semifinal loss to Fort Wayne Blackhawk) and the other three came to 3A or larger schools. Ryan Kupferschmid, Cory Waycaster, Kenny Bearss and Tanner Watson were the four senior starters on a team that was immensely enjoyable to watch based on its blend of smart, hard and clean play.
Beyond those above clubs, we also had Concord (15-9) knocking off Northridge on its way to winning the 4A Elkhart Sectional; junior Devin Cannady-led Marian finishing 14-9, including 10-3 over its final 13 games; underclassmen-led Goshen (13-10) going 9-2 over its final 11 games; and Fairfield closing at 12-9 for its best mark in four years.
1,000 X 5 = FIRST EVER
Individually, in terms of reaching the 1,000-point milestone, it was an unprecedented season in Elklhart County,
A whopping five players from the Class of 2014 — Ritchie (1,388), Kupferschmid (1,224), Waycaster (1,096), Zurcher (1,093) and Wilkinson (1,092) — netted at least 1,000 career points.
ELKHART COUNTY CLASSES
WITH MOST 1,000-POINT SCORERS
2014: 5 (Nate Ritchie, Northridge; Ryan Kupferschmid, ECA; Cory Waycaster, ECA; Zach Zurcher, NorthWood; Jon Wilkinson, NorthWood).
2005: 3 (Derek Drews, Elkhart Central; Shawntes Gary, Concord; Tyler Leighton, Jimtown).
1997: 3 (Jayme Mathews, Fairfield; Todd Janes, Northridge; Eliot Friesen; Bethany).
1980: 3 (Wendall Troyer, Northridge; Troy Neely, Jimtown; Todd Grove, NorthWood).
1966: 3 (Jerry Garber, Jefferson; Mel Dean, Nappanee; Don Weirich, Middlebury).
Never before in county history had more than three players from the same class reached 1,000, and even that had happened on just four occasions spanning 40 years.
Further, before this season, there had been just one set of county classmates ever — Fairfield's Jeff Miller and Jerrold Kauffman in 1981 — to each reach 1,000, yet the duos of Wilkinson/Zurcher and Kupferschmid/Waycaster tripled that number of instances.
Wilkinson and Zurcher even went over 1,000 in the same game, an all-time first here, with the Hickory Husker website wondering if maybe it was an all-time first in the state as well.
Expanding to the rest of our coverage area, we actually had a half-dozen players reach 1,000 points this winter. Cannady is at 1,004 — with a season to go.
IHSAA SEMISTATE PAIRINGS
At Huntington North
2A: Westview (22-4) vs. Cass (22-2), 4 p.m.
3A: Bowman Academy (21-4) vs. FW Dwenger (17-8), 6:15 p.m.
1A: Michigan City Marquette (18-6) vs. Liberty Christian (20-6), 1 p.m.
4A: Lake Central (21-3) vs. Homestead (20-7), 3:15 p.m.
3A: Guerin Catholic (22-3) vs. Greensburg (26-1), 4 p.m.
4A: Indianapolis Tech (25-2) vs. Bloomington North (16-8), 6:15 p.m.
1A: Clay City (20-6) vs. Barr-Reeve (25-1), 1 p.m.
2A: Indianapolis Park Tudor (22-4) vs. Clarksville (23-2), 3:15 p.m.
IHSAA AREA RECORDS
W-L Off Def
Penn 23-2 69.0 54.0
NorthWood 21-3 64.5 49.0
Northridge 18-3 62.4 54.4
Westview 22-4 60.4 48.9
Elkhart Christian 17-5 68.2 48.4
Concord 15-9 56.9 51.5
Marian 14-9 58.1 53.3
Fairfield 12-9 57.2 53.2
Goshen 13-10 48.8 49.4
Elkhart Memorial 8-13 55.0 59.5
Jimtown 7-14 46.2 47.4
Elkhart Central 5-16 55.9 59.0
Wawasee 4-17 45.8 54.3
Bethany Christian 3-18 44.6 60.4
IHSAA AREA SCORING LEADERS
G Pts Avg
Nate Ritchie, Northridge 21 505 24.0
Devin Cannady, Marian 23 504 21.9
Zach Zurcher, NWood 24 464 19.3
Ramon Johnson, Concord 24 455 19.0
Cory Waycaster, ECA 22 391 17.8
Jordan Geist, Penn 25 443 17.7
Jon Wilkinson, NWood 24 425 17.7
Jordyn Bontrager, Westview 26 447 17.2
Joe Line, Fairfield 21 356 17.0
Tray Qualls, Memorial 7 114 16.3
Filip Serwatka, Concord 24 379 15.8
Chandler Aspy, Westview 25 392 15.7
Ryan Kupferschmid, ECA 22 343 15.6
Dimitri Giger, Memorial 21 321 15.3
Sol Brenneman, Bethany 21 286 13.6
Alex Clark, Wawasee 21 283 13.5
Treyton Harris, Central 21 271 12.9
Nick Floyd, Jimtown 21 260 12.4
Abe Thorne, Bethany 21 259 12.3
Billy Doslak, Penn 25 304 12.2
Deric Haynes, Goshen 23 276 12.0
Pete Smith, Northridge 21 240 11.4
Will Stueve, NorthWood 24 269 11.2
Cameron Maxwell, Memorial 21 235 11.2
Brady Bechtel, Goshen 13 144 11.1
Gage Reinhard, Wawasee 21 22910.9
Austin Woolett, Goshen 23 248 10.8
Jamar Weaver, Westview 26 246 9.5
Judah Zickafoose, Westview 26 243 9.3
A.J. Gary, Memorial 21 193 9.2