NORTH JUDSON — The season is over for the Warriors.

In the IHSAA Class 2A Boys Basketball North Judson Regional Championship game against No. 8 Gary 21st Century, their first-ever meeting, Westview matched the pace of the Cougars (a very fast one), for as long as it could, but were worn down gradually over the course of the game and lost 67-58.

“I felt like what we trying to do worked for three quarters,” Warriors coach Chandler Prible said. “We wanted to pack the lane defensively and force them to take threes, which I don’t know how many they hit but probably more than they normally do. But for the most part, our guys really adjusted well because we don’t get to simulate that speed in our practices.”

After a 3-pointer from 21st Century’s Ashton Williamson (19 points) opened the game’s scoring, Westview got off to a hot start that began with an answer by junior Wiley Minix (11 points) followed by a pair of buckets by senior Brady Yoder (20 points) and junior Luke Helmuth (15 points).

The Cougars responded with a three by Quintin Floyd (14 points) and a basket by Williamson, though the Warriors scored seven of the next 10 to lead 14-11 before taking a timeout to discuss strategy.

Westview scored seven of the last nine points of the quarter, including a pair of free throws by junior Micah Miller (2 points), to head into the second up 21-16.

Gary 21st flipped the script in the second, keeping up the same intensity it had in the first with little reason to believe they were getting tired. It began the quarter on a 10-2 run led by Lemetrius Williams (13 points), Roy Cast (2 points) and Williamson to take a 26-23 advantage and force a Warriors timeout.

But the Warriors maintained the pace as well, as senior Jethro Hostetler (2 points) stopped the drought with a score at the 2:16 mark and Minix would hit his third and final three of the game with 1:41 left in the half. But the Cougars maintained a 31-28 lead going into the locker room.

“We were really kind of getting what we wanted,” Prible said. “We were getting open shots and even offensive rebounding a little bit. I was a little more worried about the rebounding battle.”

The Warriors retook the lead when Helmuth opened the third with a three and Minix scored shortly after. But the quick-striking ability of the Cougars came into play yet again when they went on a 10-2 run over the course of about three minutes.

Up 43-39 at the end of the third, Gary 21st Century maintained a single-digit lead at the free-throw line after Williamson and Hayes were each fouled to go up seven.

With 6:02 left in the game, junior Wade Springer (3 points) was fouled on a 3-point attempt and knocked down all three of his free throws to cut the deficit to five.

The closest the Warriors would get down the stretch was when Yoder made a three with 5:07 to go to trail by four, because the Cougars replied with a 14-2 run to take their largest lead of the game, 65-49, with under two minutes left.

The reserves came in shortly thereafter and despite scoring the last seven points of the game, including the final five by sophomore Kamden Yoder (5 points), Westview just ran out of steam and was not able to mount a comeback.

“In the fourth quarter, it was a lot tougher because we were more spread out and they were getting shots right at the rim,” Prible said. “We went into the half kind of worried about how tired our guys maybe were. It wears on you over 30 to 40 minutes.”

Other scorers for the Cougars were Terrance Hayes (12 points) and Demetrius Moss (7 points).

Gary 21st Century (21-5) advanced to the Logansport Semi-State to play No. 3 Blackhawk Christian this Saturday, while Westview finishes at 17-9 and graduates two seniors, Brady Yoder and Hostetler.

“I can’t say enough good things about this group,” Prible said. “They’re guys that I’m excited to see what happens after high school. I love those two seniors that we have. Both of them were maybe a little bit emotional and that’s just because of how much they care about the program and the effort they’ve put into it. They’re going to go on to be great people and great dads, and I’m excited about all of that for them.”

Nevertheless, Prible accomplished something that hasn’t been done in quite a while for first-year coaches at Westview, winning a sectional title at a school famous for its love of basketball.

“It’s something I learned when I was an outsider, I heard a lot about the community and how they just come to support no matter where you’re at,” Prible said. “Just the other day I went and read a basketball book to some of the third graders, and they all knew about the game. Boys or girls, it didn’t matter, they were all excited. The community really cares and it’s a special place that I get to coach at the best place in high school for basketball.”

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