The Class 4A state championship game was a hard-fought defensive battle, as expected. In the end, Carmel came away with the 51-46 overtime victory over Lawrence North. It was the third consecutive MIC vs MIC 4A championship. Saturday night’s game was just the second time that the 4A championship needed an extra period, as Homestead defeated Evansville Reitz 91-90 in overtime of the 2015 4A championship.
Lawrence North’s CJ Gunn hit a pair of free throws with 29 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime tied at 38. The first few minutes of the 4-minute overtime period went back and forth, as the score was knotted up at 42 with 1:17 left in OT. At that point, Carmel guard Josh Whack was fouled on a shot attempt.
Free throws are one of the key fundamentals that hoopers are taught from day one, and this pair of free throws were the most important of Whack’s career.
Whack drained both of them.
Carmel then got a stop, and Whack sank another pair of free throws to extend the Greyhounds’ lead to 4. Josh Whack went 7/8 at the line in the final 1:17 to ice the game for Carmel and give the team their second consecutive state championship.
“It was my time,” said Whack. “I stepped up and knocked the shots down.” Whack was second in scoring for Carmel with 11 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal. Brian Waddell led the Greyhounds in scoring with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Waddell went 8/8 on foul shots. Free throws were a large factor in deciding the game, as Carmel was 20/25 (80%) at the line and Lawrence North was 6/17 (35.3%).
Whack also defended Lawrence North’s two leading scorers, Shamar Avance and CJ Gunn, for much of the game. “I knew that I was going to have to come in and play defense. That’s what I do the whole season.” Avance and Gunn combined for just 21 points on Saturday night, which is far below their combined average of 31.6 points per game.
Greyhounds head coach Ryan Osborn is excited that his players get to embrace this moment. “To go through the two years that we’ve all gone through and to be able to celebrate something like this is pretty special for these guys.”
Carmel won the state championship in 2019 and then won their sectional last season, but the entire tournament was canceled before regional weekend due to COVID-19. In four seasons as Carmel’s head coach, Ryan Osborn is 21-1 in state tournament games, having just one loss to Warren Central in the 2018 4A championship.
For the fifth time in boys basketball history and 159th time across all IHSAA sports, the Carmel Greyhounds are champions.
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