HUNTINGTON — You'll never catch these Westview Warriors making those chest-thumping guarantees, the kind that were perhaps born into sports with Joe Namath's, but have since become an Average-Joe epidemic.
If anything, genuine surprise was the prevailing thread as the Warriors talked right after their semistate victory about the notion that they're actually heading to the Class 2A boys basketball state title game.
These guys just might be too unassuming, too down to earth, too reflective, too conscientious of real variables, too big picture.
"I never would've expected this at the beginning of the year, with everything we went through," junior Chandler Aspy said after scoring 19 points and grabbing eight rebounds in unranked Westview's 65-58 semistate win over No. 7 Cass in the 2A semistate Saturday, March 22, at Huntington North. "We knew we had a chance, but we never knew it could become a reality."
So, what exactly is this "everything we went through" part, Chandler?
"Chase (Anderson) broke his hand, Damon was still out (the first five games with a knee injury), and we had a couple suspensions (involving backup players)," Aspy detailed. "It was a rough start. But we fought through the adversity and made it here, so it's an awesome feeling."
The Warriors (23-4), who have won 12 straight games, face No. 1-ranked Indianapolis Park Tudor (23-4), which has won 10 straight, and state scoring leader Trevon Bluiett in the 2A final Saturday, March 29, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Tip-off is slated for about 12:45 p.m.
"I never thought we'd be able to take it to this point," senior guard Jordyn Bontrager said after his dazzling 18-point, 12-rebound, nine-assist showing against Cass, which went in with a state-best 20 straight victories. "I'm still in awe a little bit. It's kind of unbelievable."
"I could not have dreamed this at the beginning of the year, that we could go to state," senior Jamar Weaver echoed.
Why the heck not? You mean that rough start that Aspy summarized?
"I knew we could have a good run in us, I knew we had a good team, but I knew about all the good teams we had to get past," said Weaver after scoring 14 points with four 3-pointers against the Kings. "We had to get past Hammond Noll (a double-overtime win in the reg.ional semifinals), we thought (No. 3) Wapahani might be here (before Cass beat the Raiders 63-62 in a regional semi), or these guys, and even LaVille in the sectional. We knew we had a chance, but we knew it was going to be tough."
"At the beginning of the season, if you told me we'd be here, I probably would've doubted you," said Hershberger, one of Westview's four senior starters, "but as the season went on, I felt more and more confident. I'm not surprised we're here now."
Told about the theme of doubting among his players, coach Rob Yoder pondered for a second, then offered a theory.
"You know what, we don't ever set any goals — conference goal, sectional goal, regional goal, and certainly not a state goal -- our goal is always win the next game on your schedule," Yoder said. "I don't think we ever get caught looking that far ahead. I just don't think it's healthy looking ahead, and it's not healthy looking behind. You gotta get ready for your next game, so why would they even think about going to the state championship?"