INDIANAPOLIS – Both head coaches in Saturday’s Class 3A boys basketball state championship game will be making their first appearance in the finals.
But one of them has been waiting longer for the opportunity, which comes at 6 p.m. Saturday when Norwell and Guerin Catholic play at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Norwell’s Randy Hawkins is in his third year as a head coach, while Guerin Catholic’s Pete Smith has been a head coach for 21 years with stops at five schools.
Two years ago, when I took this (program) over, we only dreamt of getting this far, said Hawkins, who is 57-15 at Norwell. For it to happen so soon, it is a great feeling.
It is a great experience coming up. It is going to be a busy week, but it is going to be a week to remember.
Hawkins replaced Doug Hicks, who went to New Haven as an assistant principal, on an interim basis to start. Hawkins, a Bellmont graduate, had been an assistant at Norwell for eight years.
Fourth-ranked Norwell (24-2) beat No. 7 Mishawaka Marian 76-67 in the Huntington North Semistate, while No. 10 Guerin Catholic (23-5) beat No. 6 Evansville Bosse 75-56 in the Seymour Semistate.
Smith, a former Warsaw assistant coach, has finally found a home at the Noblesville Catholic school after stints at Manchester, Noblesville, Penn and Carmel. Smith is 285-205 overall and has been with Guerin Catholic for six years.
It has been very fulfilling, Smith said of getting to the state finals. My early years, I was always hunting that job where I thought my best opportunity was because it was all about one class. (Guerin Catholic) is very special because the school has done it the right way. Athletics is not a priority there. If you are not spiritual, there’s no place for you.
Smith was an assistant coach to Al Rhodes when the Tigers won the 1984 single-class state championship.
It is a little bit different, said Smith, who added he has already talked to Rhodes (now at Penn) and will see him at Saturday’s game.