Indianapolis Lutheran rolls to first Boys Basketball State Championship
The first 10 minutes of the Class 1A state championship game bore very little resemblance to what would become Indianapolis Lutheran’s 97-66 rout of Southwood.
The first quarter and two minutes were filled with sloppy play unbecoming of teams vying for a state title. Both squads were plagued by poor shooting, a boatload of turnovers and helter-skelter play which left the eventual winners facing a 17-12 deficit.
It certainly looked like a game where the teams came in with a combined 19 losses (12 by Southwood) – the most-ever in IHSAA state finals history.
From that point, however, Lutheran played the role of a state champion. The Saints finished the half on a 33-9 run, hitting 10-of-13 shots from the floor and forcing Southwood into 10 turnovers. The onslaught continued into the third quarter and the Saints were never threatened.
The 97 points is a new multi-class title-game record – eclipsing the 95 points scored by North Central in the 2010 4A championship game – and matched the single-class record total put up by the Oscar Robertson-led Crispus Attucks squad in 1955.
The Saints scored 36 of those points in the decisive second quarter -- another state record for any title game (one-class or multi-class). Lutheran almost eclipsed that total in the third as they “only” tallied 32 points.
Before it was over, the eighth-ranked Saints rolled to leads as large as 36 points (89-53) and placed five players in double-figures.
“We wanted to push the tempo,” Lutheran coach Remus Wood said. “I couldn’t have called 97 (points), but we felt we needed to score a lot today.”
It all added up to Lutheran’s first state title in the sport and the second this school year. The Lutheran football team claimed the 1A title last November. The Saints (20-7) had previously finished as runner-up on the hardwood in 2008.
Southwood (15-13) led, 10-9, after one quarter and extended that to 17-12 on a lay-up by Will Winer with 6:23 left.
To that point, Lutheran had hit only 6-of-23 from the floor and the team’s second-leading scorer, Durray Smith, had been held scoreless. Smith, however, began the explosion with a 3-pointer with 5:46 left.
The Saints took a 45-26 lead into halftime, before they came out absolutely blazing in the third quarter by hitting 14-of-16 shots from the floor to extend the advantage to 77-49.
“Honestly,” Southwood coach Christian Perry said, “we felt comfortable early on. We felt like we could play with those guys.”
Then … “it was like a snap,” Southwood senior Jason Opirisek said of the Lutheran explosion. “We started turning it over, they were making shot after shot and it was all downhill for us.”
Cayden Loescher led all players with 22 points and 10 rebounds for the winners, while Smith chipped in with 21 points.
Opirisek led the Knights with 17 points.
It was Southwood’s second state runner-up finish after falling to Morristown in the 1A championship in 2018.
Class 1A State Championship Records
New Team Records: 1A
- Most combined points: 163, 97 by Lutheran, 66 for Southwood
- Most Points, 97 by Lutheran vs. Southwood
- Largest Margin of Victory: 31 by Lutheran vs. Southwood
- Most Points in a Quarter: 36 by Lutheran vs. Southwood
- Most Field Goals Attempted: 73 by Lutheran vs. Southwood
- Most Combined Free Throws Attempted: 57, Lutheran 29, Southwood 28
- Most Assists: 27 by Lutheran vs. Southwood
- Most Combined Blocked Shots: 17, 11 by Lutheran, 6 for Southwood
- Most Points in a Half: 52 by Lutheran (2nd Half) vs. Southwood
- Most Combined Points in a Half: 92, 52 by Lutheran, 40 by Southwood (2nd half)
Tied Team Records: 1A
- *Most Points: 97 by Lutheran vs. Southwood; Single Class Championship: Indpls Attucks vs. Gary Roosevelt 1955
- Most Field Goals Made: 37 by Lutheran vs. Southwood,
- Most Combined Assists: 27 by Lutheran, 10 by Southwood,
Individual Records: 1A
- Highest Field Goal Percentage: LJ Ward, Lutheran, .833
Tied Individual Record: 1A
- Most Steals: LJ Ward, Lutheran, 6
Southwood’s Cole Winer named Mental Attitude Award recipient
Following the game, members of the IHSAA Executive Committee named Cole Winer of Southwood High School as the winner of the Ray Craft Mental Attitude Award in Class 1A Boys Basketball.
The award is presented annually to a senior participant in each classification who was nominated by his principal and coach and has demonstrated excellence in mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability.
Cole is a member of the National and Technical Honors Societies, as well as being Student Body President in 2022. In basketball, Cole was on the All-Three Rivers Conference Team in 2022 and 2023 and was named to the All-Wabash County First Team the last three years. He was also a participant on the football and track teams and the Wabash County Player of the year for football in 2021 and 2022.
He is the son of Adam and Kelli Winer of Wabash, Indiana and plans to attend Liberty University to study Business Management and play on the football team as a walk-on.
The Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever, the presenting sponsors of the IHSAA Boys Basketball State Tournament, presented a $1,000 scholarship to the general scholarship fund at Southwood High School in the name of Cole Winer.
The award is named in honor of the former IHSAA Associate Commissioner Ray Craft, who served at nearly every level of Indiana secondary education and interscholastic athletics during his career from 1983 to 2008.