Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

March 22, 2013

Ultimate goal within reach for Pirates

Championship game just hours away

Nick Gonnella
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — The Greensburg boys basketball team has climbed to the highest point of the tournament mountain to reach the pinnacle - tomorrow’s State Championship game.

Just one game remains before the Pirates can stake a claim to fulfilling their dream and reigning over Class 3A.

Following the Semi-State win over Mt. Vernon (Fortville) Saturday, hundreds of Greensburg fans gathered at the high school gym to welcome the champions back to Decatur County. The 12 players were greeted by a charmed and festive crowd as they walked onto the court.

Greensburg Principal Phil Chapple and head coach Stacy Meyer each addressed both the team and the crowd, and assistant coach Jason Simpson then took his turn at the microphone. He asked the Greensburg graduates to raise their hands to identify themselves as alumni.

“The Pirates, the Greensburg Pirates, are going to the State Finals,” he said to them, with emphasis on “Greensburg Pirates.” Simpson’s words drew loud cheers and applause from alumni, current students and fans who were still letting the message sink in.

After making history with the program’s first Semi-State title, Greensburg will take on Fort Wayne Concordia - another school seeking its first state championship. The destination is Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis for a 6 p.m. tipoff.

The Cadets are coming off a 68-63 overtime win over Andrean at Huntington North. Greensburg will face its fifth opponent in six games that was ranked in the top eight. The season began with 414 schools in Indiana competing for the same goal. Only eight teams remain fighting for the IHSAA trophy.

The Pirates are protecting a 7-0 record in games they are playing for a championship. Greensburg’s 63-40 win over East Central in the regular season finale solidified its outright EIAC title. Wins over South Dearborn, Batesville and Madison earned the Pirates their 38th sectional crown. Victories over Evansville Bosse and Brownstown Central made the Pirates regional champions for the first time since 2009.

Standing in their way of a state title berth was top-ranked Mt. Vernon (Fortville) and its stout defense. The Pirates took care of that obstacle with a 25-point, 62-37 dispatching of the Marauders.

Now, just 24 hours before a state champion is finally crowned, Greensburg concludes this magical season at the threshold of school history. The only other Greensburg sport to battle for a state championship was the Lady Pirate softball team, in 1998. The Pirates know that 32 minutes separate them from achieving their lofty goal.

Greensburg holds the edge from the perimeter, shooting 42 percent to the Cadets’ 34 percent. The Pirates’ secondary weapon is from the foul line, where they shoot 72 percent. The Cadets make 65 percent of their free throws.

Greensburg also holds the advantage in overall shooting, 61.4 percent to 56.1 percent.

The Cadets average 64.9 points each game, while Greensburg scores 71.2 an outing. Defensively, the Cadets give up 53.4 and Greensburg allows 45.9. Greensburg leads the state in average margin of victory at plus-25.3, while Concordia outscores its opposition by 11.5.

The Pirates look to use their athleticism and quickness against their tallest and biggest opponent of the season. Concordia’s length will test Greensburg’s passing efficiency, and its bulk will be an added challenge. It’s no secret that the Cadets boast four starters 6-foot-6 or taller, starting with 6-foot-7 senior forward Brian Gremaux. Three Cadets score in double figures, led by 6-foot-6 junior guard D.J. McCall with 17.3. The other three starters are seniors. Forward Thomas Starks follows with 12.8 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds per game. Starks also is the Cadets’ free throw leader at 80 percent. Marq Rogers chips in 8.7 points and leads the team in assists with 4.6. Guard Ryan Gross averages 5.7 points and 4.3 assists.

McCall adds versatility to Concordia, averaging 5.2 rebounds and three assists per game. He led his team with 20 points in Saturday’s semi-state win.

Outside of the numbers and statistics is sure to be one intangible that no opponent has held over the Pirates, and that is the strong support from their fans. Tickets allotted to Greensburg reserved for the lower level were swallowed up in less than two days, and close to 3,000 tickets were sold before the end of sales. A record not measured by performance on the court will surely be broken Saturday, and that is the backing of the fan base at any Pirate athletic contest.

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