The wait is over.
Huntington North claimed its first sectional title since 2001 with a 51-40 win over Wayne in the Class 4A Wayne Sectional on Saturday night in front of a raucous crowd that filled the visitors side of the gym.
"The community had our back, and we did it for them," senior forward Sawyer Stoltz said. "We knew, once they were lined up outside, that we had to play for our community, and we finally got that big win for them."
Junior forward Jordan Hollowell was serenaded with chants of "MVP! MVP!" as he cut down his piece of the net.
"This is the biggest part of my life in basketball, ever," said Hollowell, who was 10 for 10 from the free throw line during the fourth quarter. "I've never felt this before."
The Vikings (22-4) went into halftime with a 23-12 lead, but the Generals (15-10) cut into that lead in the third quarter. The margin shrank to four points early in the fourth quarter when Wayne senior forward Craig Young was fouled on a layup and then hit the free throw.
But the Generals never got any closer, as Huntington North more than made up for Wayne's clutch buckets at the foul line. Hollowell and Zach Daugherty drew foul after foul from the Generals, who had four key players finish the game with at least three fouls.
"He is like the Energizer Bunny, and he's like that every day at practice," Huntington North coach Craig Teagle said of Hollowell. "He never has one of those days where you say, he's a little flat. He's all over the place. In fact, we count at practice how many times he falls down at practice or gets knocked down, because he's just like a pinball."
Huntington North bested Wayne's 3-point shooting – the Vikings shot 61.5 percent from beyond the arc while the Generals hit just 25 percent – and attempted 22 free throws to Wayne's nine. Huntington North took control of the game during the second quarter, when the Generals hit just one of nine attempts from the field. Young led Wayne with 14 points, and Cam Starks scored eight.
"We needed to stop No. 0, Craig Young, and just block out and stay poised and not turn over the ball," Hollowell said. "Honestly, it's really tough for me, because Craig Young is just huge."
The Vikings committed 13 turnovers despite the focus on taking care of the ball. Still, Stoltz said he was pleased with how his team shared the ball.
"We haven't shot that well the first two games (of sectionals), but tonight we shot really well," Stoltz said. "We were trying to get it into everybody's hands, because everybody can score on our team. We were spreading the ball, and everyone was making shots. It was huge."
Daugherty, who hit three 3s in the first half, led the Vikings with 13 points, while Trey Williams and Hollowell each scored 12. Stoltz finished with 11.
"They're a very deserving group, but you know something, you have to go earn it," Teagle said of his team. "They earned it. And hats off to Wayne, with their ball pressure and their activity, their strength and physicalness. They took us out of a lot of stuff, and we feel fortunate. We'll take it."
The Vikings next play Zionsville in the second of two Class 4A regional semifinals at Logansport on Saturday.