Forget about pinching me to make sure I’m awake; just slap me across the face. Seriously. Anyone who stood around me Saturday night at the game knows that I’m still kind of in disbelief that this has happened. I wouldn’t say it’s unbelievable, it’s just… well, kind of remarkable.
To be honest, I expected the Blazers to bring home the regional title this weekend. In my opinion, the Blazers were the best team in the field, and I feel pretty good about saying that was definitely proved Saturday.
Ever since Kevin Bates went down, it’s been a “next man up” type of attitude. This weekend, that man was Anthony Maranto. Anthony didn’t join the team until January after an offseason injury, but his impact has been huge in the grand scheme of things. After dishing out 16 assists in the three sectional games, Maranto had his coming out party from the field Saturday. In the morning game, he propelled the Trailblazers to a 46-39 victory over Baptist Academy by leading all scorers with 21 points. In the night session, he was the second-leading scorer for University, putting up 14 points in the 64-46 victory over Jac-Cen-Del for the championship.
If you had told me Dominic Dixon would only put up 9 points against Baptist Academy, I wouldn’t have expected us to win—after all, he had been in double figures in points in every game this season with the exception of the blowout loss to Park Tudor. But then again, it’s not like Dominic played poorly. Baptist Academy focused much of their attention defensively on Dixon, forcing the Blazers to go to other means for scoring, and that’s where Maranto came in. Unlike Baptist Academy, Jac-Cen-Del struggled to contain Dixon down low in the championship game, with the Eagles having no answer for the big man. Dixon touched the ball in the paint ten times Saturday night. He scored on nine of those ten times.
University 46, Baptist Academy 39
The Chargers got out to a hot start Saturday—they led 11-6 after a few minutes of play—but ultimately couldn’t outplay a University team that was quicker than they were. After that early 11-6 deficit, the Blazers scored 14 of the next 16 points and never trailed again. University led 22-18 at halftime and upped that lead to 36-28 at the end of the third quarter. The Chargers kept trying to close, but could never get the Blazer lead under five during the fourth quarter, with a pair of Mikhail Liston free throws with :22.9 left putting the game away. Anthony Maranto led all scorers with 21 points—8 in the first half and 13 in the second half—and Dominic Dixon added 9 points and 10 rebounds.
University 64, Jac-Cen-Del 46
The Cinderella story of the tournament (Jac-Cen-Del won all of 5 regular season games) stuck around for the first 12 minutes before the Blazers exerted their will on the game. It was just a 13-11 lead for University after a quarter played and a 23-17 lead with 4:00 to play in the half before the Blazers started to dominate. University rattled off the last nine points of the half and entered the locker room with the game in hand, up 32-17. The Blazers continued to dominate the rest of the way, with the lead growing as high as 20, leading 47-29 after the third. The Eagles had no answer for Dominic Dixon down low—he had 20 points and scored 9 of the 10 times he touched the ball down low—and Anthony Maranto and Eric Wott added 14 and 10 respectively.
Saturday vs Borden @ Seymour
By virtue of the regional championship, the Trailblazers advanced to the final four and this Saturday’s semi-state game against #10 Borden (22-3). The game will be played at Seymour High School with tip-off at 4:00. Fan buses will be available and students should e-mail Crash (email@example.com) for a seat on the bus!
Borden will be the best team the Trailblazers have played this postseason (as they should be in the state semi-finals). The Trailblazers are going to have to play well and close to their potential to win, but that’s not to say it’s not doable.
Borden’s three losses are all to teams that finished the season with a losing record, showing that they’re far from unbeatable. Borden’s strength is on the defensive side of the ball, only giving up 45 points per game to their opponents—9th best in Class A and 20th best in the IHSAA. The Braves’ best wins are 14-9 Lanesville, 13-11 Orleans (twice by one point), 18-6 Clarksville, 13-8 South Central, and 24-2 Barr-Reeve. The Braves are ranked 12th in Class A in the Sagarin computer ratings with a rating of 68.80 while the Blazers are 28th in Class A, rated 60.51. When looking at both computer rating systems, the Braves are 8.5 point favorites. Borden’s regional title marked the second in school history (2008), and this was their fourth sectional championship in school history (2008, 2009, 2012). Until 1994, the name of the town of Borden was officially New Providence, though the high school has been named Borden since its 1910 conversion from a teachers’ college to a high school. Borden is located approximately 20 miles northwest of Louisville, Ky and is located along the Monon Railroad. The Blazers have played a slightly tougher schedule than the Braves, having games against two top-64 teams statewide (Park Tudor and Guerin) in addition to a game against 2A regional champion Speedway. The Blazers are seeking to be only the second team in IHSAA boys basketball state tournament history to reach a championship game with 11 or more losses (Lafayette Jefferson, 1950).