It’s No. 1 vs. No. 2 this Saturday at Tiernan Center.
The state’s top two Class 3A boys basketball teams clash at the Richmond semistate when top-ranked Mt. Vernon (Fortville) meets No. 2 Greensburg. Both teams are 24-1.
That game follows the 1 p.m. tip-off between Class 2A’s Speedway (21-4) and Linton-Stockton (23-3).
The winners advance to the state finals March 23 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
“To be able to follow their team (Greensburg) and the success that they’ve had the last couple of years, and then the season that we’ve had, just toget to this point, we’re real excited about it,” said Mt. Vernon coach Steve Lynch. “It’s a shame somebody is going to have to lose on Saturday, but we look forward to the challenge.”
It was 25 years ago, during the 1987-88 season, that Tiernan Center housed a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown in the regular season. Richmond, then ranked No. 1, held off No. 2 Muncie Central 67-61.
“(Tiernan Center) is a huge gym, a historical gym, and one we don’t have the opportunity to play in,” said Greensburg coach Stacy Meyer. “It’s great for our kids to have that opportunity.”
Lynch already witnessed a Mt. Vernon program taking home a title at Tiernan last month. The Marauders’ girls program halted Rushville to win a Class 3A semistate championship on Feb. 23.
“I’ve been here several times, either brought kids down for recruiting for IU East, or just being in the venue before,” Lynch said. “It’s a great place, and I know we’re really looking forward to playing.”
Cost is $8.
Of the four teams playing at Tiernan Center this Saturday, just one, Speedway, has a prior semistate championship, won in 2002.
The Sparkplugs advanced to their latest semistate tournament by winning last Saturday’s Class 2A regional tournament at Connersville’s Spartan Bowl. Speedway defeated Indianapolis Scecina 65-56 and halted Indianapolis Broad Ripple 43-41 in the final.
Union County was also in the Connersville field.
Speedway coach Chuck Bennett said his squad’s 10-0 start this year was the best in school history.
“In 73 years of basketball, our kids have started the best, so now there’s a kind of a little hunger to finish the best,” Bennett said. ” … If we win it, we’ll finish with the best record in school history. The kids are tied in, dialed in to that history.”
Speedway went on to win the Class 2A state championship in 2002. Justin Brent, who has verbally committed to Notre Dame for football, and Anthony Jones lead Speedway’s scoring effort.
Mt. Vernon is led by C.J. Coleman and Stephen Turner, while Greensburg’s top scorers are Sean Sellers and Bryant McIntosh.
Tipton (25-2) faces Bowman Academy (16-9) in the Class 2A semistate at Huntington North, while also at Huntington, seventh-ranked Fort Wayne Concordia (22-4) plays No. 3 Andrean (22-3) in the other Class 3A semistate game.
Richmond athletic director Chad Bolser expects a strong day of basketball at Tiernan Center.
“We had a great showing for the girls, a great crowd for the girls. I wouldn’t expect anything less for the boys,” Bolser said.
” … The most important thing is to be a great representation of the IHSAA, and to treat these teams as if they were your home teams. At the end of the day, (we want) to provide the situation where the best game possible takes place. From practices to tickets to all that stuff that goes into it, we want to make sure the most important thing they are worried with is the game, and not the other stuff.”
Bolser said after the girls semistate, a list was made of things that went well, and things that could be improved.
“We had no template,” he said. “Some of the things that popped up, we didn’t realize until the day of. I think we overcame that. … We’ve worked hard to improve and to make the best situation we possibly can.”