When his team needed him most, Darwin Davis Jr. took control and steered the Bloomington South Panthers to a 56-42 victory over Kokomo in the Class 4A state final.

In a fiercely contested game, Bloomington South saw a 10-point lead shrink to five in the final 3 minutes. That's when Davis, held nine points under his season average of nearly 22, smartly passed to Joey Forney II for an easy bucket and three-point play underneath. Then, after a pair of Kokomo free throws, Davis drove for a field goal of his own. He completed his personal surge with a big defensive rebound, and Spencer Turner's two free throws then sent the Panthers up by 10 again.

Bloomington South won its second Class 4A title in three seasons and third overall. The Panthers, ranked fourth by the Associated Press, won their final 12 games to finish 26-2. Coach J.R Holmes is 655-290 in 41 years as a head coach, fourth most among active coaches.

Frenetic defensive play marked the first half, and both teams shot below 30 percent from the field. In the third quarter, Bloomington South stretched a four-point lead to a 39-29 advantage as the game turned offensive-minded. But Kokomo refused to wilt and its fourth-quarter rally set the stage for Davis' heroics.

Desmond Marks led Bloomington South with 14 points and eight rebounds. Davis totaled seven rebounds and seven assists to go with his 13 points. Ben Stowell scored 11 and Turner 10.

Kokomo, ranked 10th by the Associated Press, came up short in its bid for its second boys state championship -- and first since 1961. Coach Brian McCauley's Wildkats won their state-leading 71st sectional title and also defeated No. 1-ranked and previously unbeaten Munster in the semi-state in advancing to Conseco Fieldhouse. The Wildkats finished 23-3.

Armon Bridgeforth led Kokomo scoring with 13 points and Cheyse Swain had 12. Hutson Clark grabbed eight rebounds.

BLOOMINGTON SOUTH'S SPENCER TURNER NAMED TRESTER AWARD WINNER Following the game, members of the IHSAA Executive Committee named Spencer Turner of Bloomington High School South as the winner of the Arthur L. Trester Mental Attitude Award in Class 4A Boys Basketball.

Turner has earned a 3.92 GPA through a rigorous set of honors diploma and advanced placement classes. He's a member of the National Honor Society and an Academic All-State selection.

Turner's a four-year varsity player for the Panthers, served as his team's co-captain this season and has been nominated for the McDonald's All-American Team and the Larry Bird Character Award. He's also served on the Conference Indiana Leadership Council all four years and is a Conference Indiana Sportsmanship Representative.

Outside of school, Turner is involved in a variety of church-related activities with the Sherwood Oaks Christian Church and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

He is the son of Scott and Kim Turner of Bloomington.

The award is named after the IHSAA's first commissioner who served the Association from 1929 to 1944. The award is annually presented to a senior participant in the state finals who best demonstrates mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability.

Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, the IHSAA's corporate partner, presented a $1,000 scholarship to Bloomington High School South in the name of Turner.

POST-GAME COMMENTS

Bloomington South Coach J.R. Holmes "It's really nice to finish off a really good tournament run that we had and our seniors have been very successful. They had a record of 94-5 in their four years here."

"We struggled a bit with some decision making – everyone wanted to do it so quick. They are so athletic and hard to keep off the boards. Ben Stowell did an unbelievable on the [D.J.] Balentine kid and that took their one perimeter shooter out of there."

(On their consistent success) "The kids just play hard and the assistant coaches are great. I didn't watch but about one fourth of one quarter of tape of Kokomo. The assistant coaches did it all then brought me a highlight tape of about eight minutes."

Kokomo Coach Brian McCauley "Our kids never quit. They have the heart of champions and that was a trademark of our team all season. We've kept fighting through adversity."

"Congratulations to Bloomington South, it's obviously a disappointing loss for us. They were just a little better than us tonight. They made it hard to score at times. "

"They had a lot to do with limiting our offense tonight. They were very physical. They denied D.J. Balentine the ball quite a bit. Some of the calls didn't go our way, but that wasn't the difference in the game."

"We cut it to five there in the fourth quarter. But when we needed the stops on defense we didn't get them. Offensively we did not play very well."

"We've had an outstanding season and this loss hurts a lot because we have invested so much this season. I feel for these guys because we came so close to our ultimate goal."

"We will miss our seniors, but I'm excited about the underclassmen we have coming back. This game will be on our minds for a long time."