Guerin Catholic optimistic after Class 3A state runner-up finish


Guerin Catholic High School senior Kamea Chandler is optimistic about the Golden Eagles’ future.

The Golden Eagles will return the other four starters next season from a team that lost to Class 3A No. 1 NorthWood 66-63 in overtime March 25 in the 3A boys basketball state championship at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Chandler said the returning players will benefit from the experience.

“I hope they use the pain they feel now as motivation for next year, because if you use the pain, you can really achieve anything,” Chandler said. “I hope they go and finish it off next year.”

Chandler said players should feel good about what they accomplished.

“We had a lot of ups and downs and struggles, but we kept our heads high,” he said. “I think we’ll all look on this with good memories that this was truly a special team. It’s not the trophy we want to be holding, but I live by the motto, ‘Don’t be sad that it’s over, just be happy that it happened.’”

Golden Eagles coach Bobby Allen said the effort his team showed in the second half is what his team has been about all season.

“It’s what put us in this place,” Allen said. “We got off to a slow start. We let a couple of their guys get loose and get some open looks, but the fight our guys showed gave an opportunity to win in the end. They made one more play than us. I’m so proud of these guys right here, and I’m so proud of our locker room. This is not a fun spot to be in right now, but again, these guys are class acts and they are going to handle it the right way.”

NorthWood (28-2) scored the game’s first 10 points en route to a 35-27 halftime lead.

Chandler said the Golden Eagles had only been blown out once all year.

“So, I knew we were going to come back,” he said.

The Golden Eagles (20-9) trailed until Chandler converted a three-point play to tie it at 52-all with 1 minute and 39 seconds left.

“Honestly, I thought we had it once we got momentum, and then it actually came down to one stop. I trusted we were going to get that one stop, which we did, but we just didn’t have enough time at the end,” Chandler said  “I felt great at that point. I thought, ‘We’re really going to do this.’”

After neither team scored the rest of regulation, junior Dylan Murans hit one of two free throws to give the Golden Eagles their only lead, 53-52, with 3:44 left in overtime.

The Panthers scored the next seven points, but Guerin Catholic battled back. Trailing 65-63, the Golden Eagles turned the ball over with 2 seconds left.

Chandler led Guerin Catholic with 22 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the field. Junior Jack Cherry contributed 15 points, hitting 4 of 6 shots.

Allen said senior Ty Sanders came off the bench with a strong defensive performance in the second half. NorthWood’s Cade Brenner scored 23 of his 28 points in the first half.

“I was doing anything I could to not let him get an open look,” Sanders said. “I trust my teammates. If I happen to get beat, they’re going to be there.”

For the season, Robert Sorensen led Guerin Catholic with 14.4 points per game, followed by Chandler at 11.4 ppg, followed by Murans at 8.0 ppg. In addition to Sorensen, Murans and Cherry, the other returning starter is sophomore Bryson Cardinal, who is the son of former Purdue University standout and NBA player Brian Cardinal. Bryson averaged 6.1 ppg.

Allen said the tough schedule prepared his team well for the postseason.

“These guys have gone toe-to-toe with everybody we’ve played this year, and they’re not afraid of anybody,” Allen said. “I’ll take this group against anybody right now. Again, NorthWood had one more play in them than we did, and that was the difference.”

This was Guerin Catholic’s third trip to the state championship game, previously winning state titles in 2012 and 2015.