Monday May 27, 2019
1:21 am

ANDREAN BOYS BASKETBALL 59ers earn school’s first state title with 59-54 win in Class 2A final

Andrean boys basketball 2019 state champs 1

Celebrating their state basketball championship victory, members of the Andrean High School 59ers congratulate each another at half court after their 59-54 win over Linton-Stockton in the class 2A final at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on March 23. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)

 

by Anthony D. Alonzo

Northwest Indiana Catholic

 

      INDIANAPOLIS – Fifty-nine academic years after its founding, Andrean High School gained another distinction when the 59ers earned the school’s first boys basketball state title in Indianapolis on March 23.

      For the 59ers, the program’s third visit to the finals was the charm, as they fought back from a six-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Linton-Stockton High School and celebrate a 59-54 win, claiming the Class 2A state championship trophy for the Merrillville school, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

      To a flurry of cheers and under the focus of cameras and smartphones, players posed with their state championship hardware. They greeted students and alumni and headed toward the locker room, some still starry-eyed from the spectacle.

      “This is definitely crazy,” said sophomore forward Kyle Ross, who scored 16 points. “I think we did a really good job ­– Nicky (Flesher) did a good job making free throws, and the defense did well.”

      Walking beside him was senior guard John Carrothers, who also notched 16 points in the game. “I’m just in awe,” he said.

      Flesher said a state championship lifts the profile of his school and also helps everyone involved with the team.

      “It’s honestly very inspirational for us to (accomplish) this,” Flesher explained. “Even the guys who don’t get (much playing time), their energy off the bench motivates us.”

      Waiting courtside, Andrean athletic director Kelly Fitzgerald said the 59ers accomplished something great for students, alumni and benefactors.

      “I’m so proud of the boys that they brought the (championship trophy) to Andrean,” she said. “It was an outstanding day for the Andrean family.”

      The 59ers (21-8), held a 3-3 mark at Christmas break, but AHS players said they “had great communications” and “came together,” after their losses and picked up their pace en route to a state championship and vindication from nay-sayers.

      Third-year head coach Brad Stangel said this 59ers squad had no choice but to play better as a team, as that is when they can match any competitor.

      “This was awesome ­– our players all made plays down the stretch,” said Stangel. “They each had their moments in the game. Kyle (Ross) and Johnny (Carrothers) are our rocks.”

      Stangel continued: “You have to play like a team to be part of this. They played so well as a group all the way down the stretch. Nobody will ever forget these guys.”

      An example of the 59ers’ “total team effort” was on display in their 73-64 double-overtime win over Frankton High School in the March 16 semi-state. The victory stopped the Eagles’ 19-game winning streak.

      On the home court of the Indiana Pacers, the 59ers and Miners (27-4) maintained parity though three quarters. Andrean took a 26-23 advantage into the locker room at halftime.

      To start the third quarter, Ross blocked Linton-Stockton senior center Sammy Robbins’ lay-up and cashed in on the turnover, laying up a shot of his own after an offensive rebound.

      The 59ers’ defense kept Linton-Stockton confined to the perimeter and, when the Miners bored into the lane, Andrean’s sophomore guard Deshon Burnett swooped in to earn a game-high three blocks and send the Region faithful into a frenzy.

      With 2:05 remaining in the last quarter, Robbins grabbed an offensive board and layed the ball up, giving his team a six point advantage. But a Ross jumper in the paint commenced an 11-0 59ers run and an historic state championship.

      Down the stretch, Flesher was 6-for-9 at the free throw line and tallied 12 overall points.

      Some Andrean players said they experienced butterflies before the basketball final. At the post-game press conference, Carrothers shared his devotional game prep and prayerful remedy for restlessness.

      “God just works in mysterious ways,” said Carrothers, crediting his trainers for encouraging Biblical devotions. “As soon as I woke up this morning, I got down on my knees and prayed to him.”

      Andrean president Tony Bonta said the state championship win is “incredible news” for the 59ers family. How the team achieved their goals was the most impressive part of their 2018-19 basketball diaries.

      “I’m very impressed and grateful for our players and coaches,” Bonta said. “We talk about the Andrean family all the time. . .it’s not just about the win, it’s about sportsmanship and character development.

      “God has continued to bless Andrean. We honor the past, celebrate the present, and envision the future,” he added.

 

 Andrean boys basketball 2019 state champs 4

Andrean High School senior guard John Carrothers (top) plots a move around Linton-Stockton's Evan Slover in the first quarter of the class 2A state championship game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on March 23. Carrothers tied teammate Kyle Ross in scoring 16 in a game that was close until the fourth quarter, when the 59ers of Merrillville overcame a six-point deficit to win the school's first boys basketball state title with a 59-54 win. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)

 

Andrean boys basketball 2019 state champs 3

Head coach Brad Stangel (bottom, left) draws a play on a board for Andrean High School 59ers players late in the fourth quarter of the class 2A state championship game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on March 23. Overcoming a six-point deficit, the 59ers of Merrrillville scored the final 11 points of the game to defeat Linton-Stockton High School 59-54 and win the school's first boys basketball state title. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)

 

Andrean boys basketball 2019 state champs 4

Andrean High School sophomore forward Kyle Ross (center) moves around Linton-Stockton defenders for a lay-up, in the first quarter of the class 2A state championship game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on March 23. Ross tied teammate John Carrothers in scoring 16 in a game that was close until the fourth quarter, when the 59ers of Merrillville overcame a six-point deficit to win the school's first boys basketball state title with a 59-54 win. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)

 

Andrean boys basketball 2019 state champs 5

Andrean High School students cheer on 59ers basketball players during the fourth quarter of the class 2A state championship game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on March 23. Overcoming a six-point deficit, the 59ers of Merrrillville scored the final 11 points of the game to defeat Linton-Stockton High School 59-54 and win the school's first boys basketball state title. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)

 

Andrean boys basketball 2019 state champs 6

Andrean High School sophomore guard Nick Flesher dribbles the ball at the freethrow line as the 59ers lead 58-54 with 0:07 remaining in the class 2A state championship game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on March 23. Helping his team overcome a six-point deficit, Flesher scored seven fourth quarter points for the 59ers of Merrrillville, who tallied the final 11 points of the game to defeat Linton-Stockton High Sschool 59-54 and win the school's first boys basketball state title. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)

 

Andrean boys basketball 2019 state champs 7

Andrean High School 59ers and cheerleaders (top) face a crowd of classmates as they serenade each other to the school's Alma Mater after the class 2A state championship game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on March 23. Overcoming a six-point deficit, the 59ers of Merrrillville scored the final 11 points of the game to defeat Linton-Stockton High School 59-54 and win the school's first boys basketball state title. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)

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