NEW HAVEN – Angola and New Haven are building quite the postseason rivalry.
After the Hornets’ 50-45 win Friday in the semifinals of a Class 3A sectional semifinal, they will have bragging rights for at least another year, and more importantly, advancement to today’s championship game.
Angola (16-8) will face Concordia (8-16) at 7:30 p.m. today in the sectional finals.
Angola held New Haven 20 points below the Bulldogs’ season scoring average of 65.7 points per game. It has been like that all season for Angola, which holds opponents to 38.1 points.
"We knew we had to play our game tonight, slow them down and play the great defense that we play all year," Angola's Braydon Hart said. "Slowing them down to holding them to 45 points ... that's pretty good."
Hart had 18 points to pace the Hornets, while Braxton Meek chipped in nine.
"We just take pride in defense and take pride in playing our butts off and never backing down," Meeks said. "It gives us all the momentum in the world. We knew we beat one of the best teams in the sectional, and we just have to keep it rolling (today)."
Angola lost to New Haven (17-7) 42-30 in last year’s sectional championship after the Hornets beat the Bulldogs 48-45 in overtime two years ago in the sectional semifinals en route to a championship a day later.
New Haven whittled the margin to two in the fourth quarter, including 44-42 with a minute left.
"That's the way they play," New Haven coach Bruce Stephens said of the Hornets. "If you get a lead, you are in trouble. They are a good defensive team; but the style they play, they are going to keep the score down. But we missed layups. It wasn't like they did anything to stop us. We had wide-open shots.
"There were some suspect calls, but we still have to do what we need to do to win, and we didn't do that. We fought back ... and we would get close and then turn the ball over, but it's high school kids."
Trailing by three at halftime, the Hornets went on an 11-3 run to gain a 34-29 advantage with 2:15 left in the third. It was a lead they would never relinquish.
James Gardner led the Bulldogs with 16 points, while Brecar Clark added 11.
Angola jumped out to an 11-8 lead after the first quarter, before New Haven scored the first seven points of the second to get the advantage, pushing it to 24-17. The Hornets hung tough and trailed only 26-23 at halftime.
Concordia beat Garrett 63-54 in the second semifinals matchup.
The Cadets, who finished ninth in the SAC, upset Leo 69-65 in the sectional first round. Concordia hasn’t won a sectional championship since the state runner-up season of 2013.
Concordia jumped out to a 17-4 lead in the first quarter and kept Garrett at bay in the fourth.
"After an emotional win over Leo, we could've easily came out flat but in the first quarter we dominated and set the tone for the rest of the game," Concordia coach Austin Thoms said. "We have been playing our best basketball the last couple of weeks. Even though it hasn't translated into a lot of wins, we have been playing consistently."
Concordia beat Angola 39-34 in the regular season.
"The postseason is different, and they are playing a lot better than when we played them," Thoms said of the Bulldogs. "They do what they do, and they do it really well. It's going to be a great challenge for us."
Garrett (3-20) got 17 points from Dillon McCann and 12 from Micah Malcolm.