It was a full house at Lafayette Jefferson High School in Lafayette, Indiana. Unfortunately about two thirds of the crowd were wearing Gary Roosevelt gold instead of Elmhurst red and gray. Gary Roosevelt, was the #1 high school basketball team in the state and they have a huge fan base. They had hoped to eliminate Elmhurst from the Semi-State tournament and go on to Conseco Fieldhouse to win a state championship ring.
Elmhurst Coach Keith Edmonds, and the varsity basketball team had another outcome in mind.
The previous week, Elmhurst had defeated Lakeland in the morning game of the Regional, and then won a very difficult game against Jay County in the evening. That clenched Elmhurst's first Regional title in 20 years and set up the match with Gary Roosevelt.
In the Semi-State game, Gary Roosevelt jumped out to an early lead and had Elmhurst down 22-11, but as has been the case all tournament, the Trojans regrouped and went on a run to get up by one at the half. The second half started as ragged as the first. Elmhurst's key players, James Hardy and Joe Poindexter were both having a tough game.
So what do you do when your two stars go cold and the other team has out rebounded you? Elmhurst depended on their defense. They challenged on every possession. They dove for the ball at every opportunity.
Starting the fourth quarter Elmhurst was down five points, but they went on a 10-0 run and never trailed the rest of the game.
The early defense of Ben Stiffler helped wear Gary Roosevelt down. The inside muscle of Brandon Stuckey and Chad Edmonds took its toll and the late foul shooting of James Hardy and the athletic rebounding of Joe Poindexter finally clenched the game.
Last week's crowd at Lafayette Jefferson High School was almost overwhelming, but the Elmhurst players stayed cool and quieted the Gary crowd with a solid victory.
Elmhurst's opponent in the State final is Indianapolis Bishop Chatard. They start 4 Seniors and 1 Junior. They have 5 guys over 6'5" and two at 6'3". Coach Dan Archer has been at Bishop Chatard for five years and has a nine game winning streak going into Saturday night's game. Chatard plays a motion offense with a man-to-man defense, which he changes to 1-3-1 zone when necessary.
Elmhurst Coach Keith Edmonds plays an up-tempo game and switches to a triangle offense when needed. His defense is blue-collar, in your face.
It's time to put on your red and gray and travel down to Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Elmhurst plays Indianapolis Bishop Chatard at 6:30pm on Saturday, March 29th. This is Elmhurst's first ever State Championship appearance.