CARMEL – As the final seconds ticked away, Luke Heady spiked the basketball off the Carmel gym floor. A few moments later, teammate Karsten Windlan ran through the hallway and toward the Carmel locker room shouting, “MIC champs!”
This was the game Carmel had been looking forward to for almost 11 months. No. 1 vs. No. 2. A rematch of last year’s Class 4A state championship, a game Warren Central won with a furious rally at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“We definitely had a chip on our shoulder,” Carmel senior John-Michael Mulloy said. “We had some feelings, you could say, for what they did to us last time.”
Second-ranked Carmel drilled No. 1 Warren Central 69-52 on Friday to put a bow on a perfect 7-0 record in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference. The senior backcourt of Windlan (19 points) and Heady (18 points) led the way for Carmel, which led by 13 points at halftime and never saw its lead dip below five points in the second half.
“We knew they were going to come out in the second half and play like the No. 1 team in the state,” Windlan said. “We knew we had to come out and finish it. Last year, we felt like we could have done more and we didn’t.”
The third quarter had its share of fireworks. Warren Central (20-2) came out of halftime on a 7-0 run to cut Carmel’s lead to six points. But Warriors assistant Ken Beatty was whistled for a technical after a Warren Central foul with 6:30 left in the quarter. Warren Central coach Criss Beyers argued the call and was called for another technical foul and ejected from the game.
“He said, ‘If I call one technical I’m calling two and you’re gone,’” Beyers said the official told him. “I said, ‘If you’re going to continue to call a game like that then call it.’ That was it.”
A bigger concern for Beyers is how his team looked Friday night. While Beyers does not like comparing this year’s team to last year’s undefeated state championship team, there was clearly something missing Friday night that went beyond Carmel’s 30-for-35 shooting from the free-throw line.
“There is no leadership on this team,” Beyers said. “There’s no one willing to take over and say, ‘This is what we need to do.’ There’s no leadership on the floor. We have eight seniors and they lead by example, but there is no vocal leadership on the team. Much different from last year. You don’t want to compare teams, but this team doesn’t have the fire.”
There was a much different mood down the hallway outside Carmel’s locker room. The Greyhounds (18-1) lost a pair of heartbreakers to Warren Central last season, falling 66-65 in the regular season and 54-48 in the state title game.
“We’re excited to win the MIC,” said Mulloy, who finished with 11 points, 13 rebounds and four assists. “To win it undefeated, undisputed is really cool. And to get Warren at the end gives us a lot of confidence going into the sectional.”
Isiah Moore led Warren Central with 16 points, shooting 4-for-13 from the 3-point line. Jesse Bingham added 13 points and Jakobie Robinson had 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Warren Central shot 9-for-27 from the 3-point line.
“They outplayed us,” Beyers said. “They came out from the beginning and outplayed us. We talked about the things they were going to do and they came out and did them. They were much, much better than us.”
Carmel, with a two-point January loss to Brownsburg as its only setback, is poised to be the No. 1 team in Class 4A next week. More impressive is an undefeated run through the MIC, which is home to seven of the top-10 teams in the state in the Sagarin Ratings.
“It can be a long, grueling season,” Osborn said. “I felt like there was a stretch in January where we lost some joy. I didn’t think we had a whole lot of passion. We’re starting to get that back. You can see the guys getting excited for each other. That’s half the battle. If they are cheering for each other and getting excited for each other, that tells you as a coach you still have some growing to do and there could be good things ahead.”
Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.
Carmel 39, Warren Central 52
Warren Central 9 9 23 11 — 52
Carmel 15 16 20 18 — 69
Warren Central (20-2) — Beeler 1 0-0 3, Bingham 5-8 1-2 13, Stanley 0 0-0 0, Moore 4-13 4-4 16, Smith 0 0-0 0, Bell 1 1-2 3, Robinson 4-6 3-5 12, Brown 2-4 5. Totals: 17 9-13 52.
Carmel (18-1) — Windlan 6-9 6-7 19, Gioia 0 0-0 0, Suder 2 6-6 10, Heady 3 9-12 18, Owens 3 0-0 7, Frische 1 2-2 4, Mulloy 2 7-8 11. Totals: 17 30-35 69.
3-point goals: Warren Central 9 (Moore 4, Bingham 2, Beeler, Robinson, Brown), Carmel 5 (Heady 3, Owens, Windlan)