FORT WAYNE – A sign in the Norwell boys basketball locker room stated the goal of going to the state finals. The only editing has been the destination. With the name change, Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis was marked out and replaced with Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Other than that, the objective wasnt changed.
And thanks to a surprising run and an even more shocking upset, the Knights (23-2) are a step away from getting to Indianapolis.
At the beginning of the season, we werent sure it was going to happen, but we have gotten better and stayed together, Norwell senior Kyle Fillman said.
The first practice last November, we said how cool it would be to make it to state. Now we have a chance.
Norwell, ranked No. 4 in Class 3A, has an opportunity because of a 63-58 regional semifinal win over No. 2 Muncie Central on Saturday at Blackford. The Bearcats were considered one of the best teams in the state regardless of class.
To beat (Muncie Central) has been a dream come true, Norwell junior Josh Van Meter said. A lot of people thought we were going to be pretty good this year but didnt think we would make it this far.
The Knights cut down the nets (after beating NorthWood 62-51 in the finals) by cutting down the trees – containing Muncie Centrals 6-foot-8 Nick Osborne and 6-7 Josh Mawhorr.
Osborne was out for a majority of the second quarter with foul trouble and Mawhorr was in foul trouble in the second half. Osborne finished with 11 points, while Mawhorr didnt score.
Osborne looked like a Greek god or something, Fillman said. His upper body was huge. We knew we had to be physical. We disrupted them with our defense.
The Bearcats, who spent some time at No. 1 this season in the Indiana Basketball Coaches Associations single poll, were the Goliath to Norwells David. In the semistate at Huntington North, the Knights will face No. 7 Mishawaka Marian (22-3) and star junior guard Demetrius Jackson, who has gotten offers from Michigan State, Notre Dame, Butler and Xavier.
Norwell coach Randy Hawkins said his team had a belief that it could beat the Bearcats.
Muncie Central was (supposed) to kill us, and they got all the publicity, Van Meter said. Our mindset has to be that we have to come in and play our game. If we are playing our game, we are tough to beat. Our game is getting after it on the defensive end, being physical and taking the best shots we can get.
Norwell will be an underdog again when it plays Mishawaka Marian in semistate.
Mishawaka Marian has a very good team, and we have to approach them like we did Muncie Central and being the underdogs and play with the same intensity that we did, Fillman said.