2009-10 Class 3A State Finals Recap

March 27, 2010

With yet another Zeller brother leading the way, Washington defeated Gary Wallace 65-62 in overtime in the Class 3A final and captured its third state championship in six years.

Cody Zeller, a 6-10 junior center, powered the sixth-ranked Hatchets with 20 points and a record-tying 26 rebounds. Zeller's older brothers Luke and Tyler led Washington to 3A state titles in 2005 and 2008, respectively. Overall, the Hatchets are now 6-0 in state championship games.

After regulation time included 10 ties and eight lead changes, coach Renaldo Thomas' Wallace team and coach Gene Miiller's Hatchets were tied at 56. Latroy Taylor's 3-pointer from the corner for Wallace with 33 seconds left knotted it.

Kurtis Anthony scored the first five points of overtime for Washington, and when Dylan Ervin added a fast-break bucket, the Hatchets led 63-56. It was a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Anthony contributed 17 points for Washington, which finished 23-3. Zeller's 26 rebounds tied a Class 3A  record set by Gerry Hall of Muncie Southside against Plainfield in 1999. Washington hit 32-of-45 from the line, breaking records for free throws made and attempted for all classes.

Wallace used withering pressure to force 20 Washington turnovers, including four in the final 1:08 of overtime. The Hornets sliced Washington's lead to 65-62 with a free throw by Branden Dawson  with 42.1 seconds left. However, the Hornets failed to score on their final three possessions.

Dawson and Taylor each scored 22 for the fifth-ranked Hornets, who were making their first State Finals appearance. Wallace finished 19-5.

The evening session games (3A and 4A) drew a sold out crowd of 18,366 fans, the largest gathering since 1998 and the fifth sellout in the last six years. This year's four games drew 30,741.

Following the game, members of the IHSAA Executive Committee named Ethan Hunsinger of Washington High School as the winner of the Arthur L. Trester Mental Attitude Award in Class 3A Boys Basketball.

Hunsinger maintains a 3.49 GPA, ranks 32nd in his senior class of 150 students and plans to attend Indiana University next fall. He is undecided on his major.

He has pursued a rigorous academic honors curriculum and is currently taking courses in Honors Economics, Calculus AP and Physics AP.

Athletically, he is a four year basketball letterwinner and three year part-time varsity starter. He also has lettered in baseball and soccer for the Hatchets and was an Academic All-State selection in soccer.

He is the son of Alan and Monica Hunsinger of Washington.

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 Washington High School in the name of Hunsinger.


Washington coach Gene Miiller

“We just hung around in there long enough to win the basketball game. We did a better job of taking care of the basketball as the game went on and our defense kept us in the game. That’s the most points we’ve given up all year. But it was in overtime against a real good team that came in here averaging 80 points a game.”

“Ever since the tournament began, our kids wanted to be the toughest team on the floor mentally and physically. We could have folded a number of times in the ballgame. But our kids have no quit in them.”

“The first win (coach of a state championship team) was a great feeling. But this one was so tough to get-it makes it more special. This one stands out because it was so hard to get and tough to earn. Our players put in a lot of hard work not only today, but also throughout the season and during the summer.”

"It means a lot to part of the Washington tradition. I’ve coached a lot of places but Washington is special and something for our players to be very proud of and honored to play at Washington.”

"Cody (Zeller) didn’t shoot the ball very well, but he did a lot of other things very well for us. Twenty-six rebounds is super!”

Gary Wallace coach Renaldo Thomas

“WOW! What a game. We had fun, Lew Wallace is gonna be remembered. I know basketball. We didn’t lose because of fouls or because of officiating. We lost because we didn’t do the little things you have to do to win. We missed some shots and man, those rims were tight…we didn’t speed the game up like we normally do. Plus, we ran up against a good team, a well coached team with a great player. Branden’s (Dawson) gonna bring me back next year, right Branden? And after that, I hope there won’t be any more Zeller’s.”

(Why Branden Dawson didn’t start) "It was a strategy thing. We did it in sectionals and him coming off the bench as a super sup fired us up and we wanted to do that again tonight. And it worked.”

(On getting to the state finals) “My only concern all year was winning the sectional. I wanted to win my first one and after that I knew we would be all right. It’s tough right now, the kids are down but I enjoyed myself being here and Lew Wallace showed that it has class kids, kids with GPA’s, kids that can keep their composure. It was a great game.”