Crispus Attucks returning to state finals for first time since 1959

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INDIANAPOLIS - The IHSAA basketball season comes to an end Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. It will also mark the end of a championship appearance for Crispus Attucks High School, which hasn't played in a title game since 1959.

The Tigers enter the weekend with a 24-4 record after their win over Evansville Bosse in semi-state and will face Twin Lakes in the 3A championship game. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. Saturday.

“I think it’s going to be crazy," said senior Zac Owens. "The fans are always pretty lit here for home games so I can’t imagine how it’s going to be at Bankers Life. We actually played there in like early December and it was crazy, and we just wanted to get back there to get the feeling again.”

Another feeling the school would like to have is the feeling of being a state champion. Crispus Attucks dominated the 1950s in high school basketball. The school reached the state finals five different years and won the championship three times. It hasn't been back since.

"We just want to be great like them guys and get our names on the school, too," Nike Sibande, a Tigers' senior, said.

This year's team has gotten to talk to a former state champion from the school. Bill Hampton was a Tiger on the 1955 title team and will get inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame this week where he's one of more than a dozen Crispus Attucks inductees from the 1950s.

"We asked him how winning state changed his life and he said 63 years later I'm still talking about it," said senior Alex Cooley. "So it may not mean as much now, but when I'm 60, 70 or 80, I can talk to kids like he talked to us."

At the start of the season, first year head coach Chris Wilkins sat the team by the state finals banners in the gym and told this year's squad it could go down in the school's record books if the guys could work together. The school's success in the past has impacted the team looking to start the next chapter of historic hoops.

"That's who we look up to," said senior Teyon Scanlan. "Once I came here eighth grade year, all we talked about was Oscar Robertson, what they did and walk in their footsteps."