INDIANAPOLIS – With Concordia Lutheran down three in the closing seconds of overtime, the Cadets desperately tried to get three-point specialist Austin Harris open for a look.
But Greensburg obviously scouted well and smothered Harris, not allowing him to get even a hint at an open shot.
Harris finished with just three points on a three-pointer in the second quarter. He did not have a single shot attempt after halftime.
As Greensburg continued to make run after run in the second half in an attempt to jump ahead, Concordia answered each with big plays of its own.
The strength in the Cadets not to back down and be able to handle adversity is not just a testament to the senior leadership, but also the quality of competition Concordia faced in the regular season. The Summit Athletic Conference was as balanced and competitive as it has been in years, with tests coming every Friday night.
Going toe-to-toe with the likes of Northop, Bishop Luers and North Side made matching up with the Pirates on Saturday much easier and less stressful than it would have been with an easy league slate.
Senior Brian Gremaux and D.J. McCall battled foul trouble all night Saturday, forcing the two out of the contest in key situations that negatively affected the Cadets.
But there were times in which other players stepped up to shoulder the load in their absence.
McCall picked up his second foul late in the first quarter and did not play at all in the second quarter. Concordia upped its two-point lead after the first eight minutes to 10 by halftime, all without its leading scorer in the game.
Marq Rogers and Gremaux each stepped up in the second quarter, scoring five points apiece to pace the Cadets. The two combined to shoot 4-of-7 in the quarter.
Brandon Webb stood in admirably for Gremaux at times, finishing with six points including a perfect 3-for-3 from the field.
But once Gremaux fouled out in the fourth quarter, Greensburg was able to attack the basket at will.
“That has kind of been my story through the whole postseason, getting in foul trouble,” Gremaux said. “I wanted to come in, step up and help my teammates out. But these guys, whenever I get into foul trouble, every single of these guys step up and they get it done.”
Big arena, tough shooting
Both teams struggled at times to shoot the ball, always a concern when playing in a cavernous arena the size of Bankers Life Fieldhouse, much different from gyms during the season.
The squads solved the problem by attacking the basket more after halftime. Concordia and Greensburg combined for 15 three-point attempts in the first two quarters, but that dropped to nine after halftime.
“This is a hard place to shoot it and I think it was for both teams a little bit,” Concordia coach Josh Eggold said. “(Greensburg) got some open looks that I’m used to seeing on film go down.”
With seven key contributors departing, it will be up to D.J. McCall to be the lone veteran leading and teaching an inexperienced team next season.
He welcomes the challenge and knows that getting to the state championship will be a big benefit in the coming years even to players who didn’t play in the game.
“We wanted to get here, but we’d never been here before,” McCall said. “To be here and know what it’s like and to pass that down to others … I think that will let kids coming up know how it feels.”
The seniors hope that they have laid the foundation for regular visits to Indianapolis in late-March.
“I feel like we’ve left a pretty good legacy at Concordia,” Marq Rogers said. “Hopefully, the kids coming up will take after this, build and follow in our footsteps and do what we’ve done.”