Carmel's 11-0 run in the first quarter set the stage. The Greyhounds' 7-0 spurt to start the third quarter provided the breathing room. Ben Gardner's record-setting scoring and free throw shooting wrapped up the victory.
Gardner scored 31 points, the most ever in a Class 4A title game, to push the fourth-ranked Greyhounds to an 80-67 victory over unranked Pike. Gardner's total surpassed the 29 scored by Lawrence North's Greg Oden against Muncie Central in 2009. Gardner hit 15 of his 19 free throws, breaking the 4A mark and tying the record for all classes.
For Carmel, it was the second state title in boys basketball and first since 1977. The championship also continued an impressive school year for Greyhounds sports teams, which have now won a record seven state titles in 2011-12. It was the 108th overall state title for Carmel teams.
Coach Scott Heady's Carmel unit defeated four ranked teams, including No. 1 Hamilton Southeastern, to get to the tournament's final game. They finished 23-4.
The Greyhounds connected on more free throws (30) than field goals (23) against Pike. With a 30-of-45 mark from the line, they broke 4A records for foul shots made and attempted. Sam Curts joined Gardner in double figures with 18 points.
Coach Bill Zych's Red Devils were seeking the school's fourth boys basketball title and first since 2003. They finished 18-8.
Pike put three players in double-digit scoring -- Zavier Turner with 20, Taishaun Johnson with 19 and Ronald Hunter with 15. Hunter had a game-high nine rebounds.
Carmel's Sam Curts Named Trester Mental Attitude Award Winner Following the game, members of the IHSAA Executive Committee named Sam Curts of Carmel High School as the winner of the Arthur L. Trester Mental Attitude Award in Class 4A Boys Basketball.
Curts maintains a 3.5 GPA, has been named a CHS Scholar Athlete as well as an Academic All-Conference and Academic All-State honorable mention selection.
He is a three-year letterwinner in basketball, a two-year starter and was named first team All-Conference. He's also participated as a member of the school's cross country team for three years.
Curts also is a diabetic who plays basketball with an attached insulin pump. He is active in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and will be a speaker at the Diabetes Youth Foundation Camp later this year.
The son of Jay and Erin Curts of Carmel, the senior has yet to make a college decision at this time.
The award is annually presented to a senior participant in the state finals who best demonstrates mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability and is named after the IHSAA's first commissioner who served the Association from 1929 to 1944.
Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, the IHSAA's corporate partner, presented a $1,000 scholarship to Carmel High School in the name of Curts.
Carmel Coach Scott Heady "We won tonight the same way we've won all year with confidence, rebounding, defense, taking care of the basketball and playing together. I told our guys, 'just do what we do' and that's pretty much what happened tonight."
"Obviously, it's an unbelievable accomplishment for our guys. I give those guys the credit. They are the ones who have persevered. It's kind of the expectation at Carmel. It's what we play for state championships. With our schedule, we were prepared for this. We play this kind of game every night. We didn't give Pike a lot of run-outs or easy baskets. They didn't have a lot of second shot opportunities. We kept the game at our tempo in the first half. They started to press in the second half and we pretty much had to play at their tempo."
(On Ben Gardner's 4A record-setting play) "Ben is a three-year starter. He's played in a lot of big games. You expect that from him. He was unbelievable. He showed a lot of toughness. Ben handled their pressure. Pike was all over him tonight. He hit big shots and got the ball where it needed to be."
Pike Coach Bill Zych "I think Carmel imposed their will on us, they played like they did all season long. They have a lot of good parts that play well together. We couldn't stop them defensively like we thought we could."
We were out of synch offensively all night. Give credit to (Carmel). They just did a great job tonight."
(On what he'll remember of this year's tournament run) "We have a lot of heart, a lot of determination. I think the biggest thing I'll remember is RJ Hunter. He's a leader. When we had that lull in the middle of the season, we came together and RJ played pretty well. It's just disappointing but when you look at it, it was a great year."
(On RJ Hunter) "He's a tremendous leader and RJ's a winner. If you look at his stats, he had a great year. Points, rebounds, assists. But that's not even the tip of the iceberg of what he is. He's a great kid. The kind of kid we want at Pike in this program. A good leader, and he's going to be sorely missed. I'm just glad I had the opportunity to coach him one more year."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun