Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

March 21, 2014

Pirates set for epic Semi-State clash

By Nick Gonnella
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — For a second straight season, the Greensburg boys basketball team is pursuing the opportunity for another repeat championship.

The south semi-state tomorrow at Richmond High School boasts the past two state champions in Class 3A.

Greensburg’s regional title last Saturday set the Pirates up for tomorrow’s epic matchup against Guerin Catholic, the second-ranked team in Class 3A. The Pirates (26-1) return to the Tiernan Center to battle the Golden Eagles (22-3) for a shot to play for the state championship trophy.

Preseason glances into the crystal ball hinted at the collision of these teams before their opening games. Along with Bowman Academy, which has won a state title in two different classes the past four seasons, the Pirates and Golden Eagles were favored to advance to the Final Four. Almost by design, the top three teams in Class 3A are still in the hunt.

The Golden Eagles’ pursuit of a repeat last season fell short in the sectional. Guerin fell to Mt. Vernon (Fortville) 37-30 in the sectional opener. This time, the Golden Eagles must contend with a starting five that is 75-3 together in the past three seasons.

Guerin defeated Tri-West 74-58 in the regional semifinal last Saturday, and topped Edgewood 64-33 for the title. Greensburg beat Silver Creek 70-60 in the semi, and clinched the program’s seventh regional crown with a 73-50 win over Evansville Memorial.

Greensburg and Guerin match up with each other as well as any other teams in the state. The similarities in height and the comparable level of talent at respective positions look to make for a competitive contest. Both teams return their top four scorers, while Greensburg returns all five from last year.

Guerin features two standout seniors in Aaron Brennan, a 6-foot-6 power forward, and Whit Rapp, a 6-foot point guard. Brennan scores 16.6 points per game and averages eight rebounds. Pirate junior Ryan Welage, a 6-foot-8 forward, and senior Sean Sellers, a 6-foot-7 forward, look to counter inside. Sellers averages 20 points and 7.5 rebounds, while Welage averages 15 points and 6.4 rebounds.

Senior power forward Cris Burrough, who adds bulk to the Eagles’ lineup at 6-foot-6, averages 9.1 points and 4.1 rebounds.

The game will spotlight two of the state’s best point guards in Greensburg senior Bryant McIntosh and Guerin senior Whit Rapp. McIntosh, the Pirates’ career assists leader, averages 14.1 points and nine assists. He was two rebounds short of a triple-double in the regional championship against Evansville Memorial Saturday, posting 12 points, 11 assists and eight boards. McIntosh’s assist-turnover ratio is an astounding 8.71. Rapp’s is also impressive at 3.91. Rapp averages 7.8 points and 8.9 assists per game, and adds 4.3 rebounds.

Junior forward Matt Holba, who transferred from Chesterton, brings his 6-foot-6 frame, 15.6 points and 6.9 rebounds to the court Saturday to boost an Eagle squad that fell short in last year’s Sectional.

Holba has drawn interest from Division I colleges, along with Brennan and Burrough.

Greensburg’s prolific shooting does not end with the starting lineup. Senior forward Tom Lawrence, the Pirates’ sixth man, shoots 50 percent from the field, 42 percent from 3-point range and 71 percent from the foul line. His 1.47 assist-turnover ratio only helps the Pirates, and his 6-foot-6 frame gives them matchup versatility. Senior Tye Fleetwood, an athletic guard with quickness, shoots 53 percent from the field and 65 percent from the foul line.

Guerin is coached by Pete Smith, who is 141-61 (69.8 percent) in his 10th year at the school and 325-214 (60 percent) in his 23rd year overall.

Greensburg head coach Stacy Meyer is 144-48 (75 percent) at Greensburg and 202-104 (66 percent) in his 13th year overall.

Sellers said the Pirates have confidence in each other and their coaching staff to prepare them for one of the biggest games in the program’s history.

“Next weekend’s going to be a definite grind-out kind of game,” said Sellers after the regionals. “They’re very good at running their sets, and executing well, and getting the best shot for them. It’s definitely going to be a good test for us.”

Bowman Academy (21-4) plays Fort Wayne Dwenger (17-8) in the Huntington Semi-State at 5:15.

Contact Nick Gonnella at (812) 663-3111, x7003.