On this date in IHSAA State Championship history, hoops legends were born

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From the FOX59 Vault: Chris Denari interviews Mike Conley and Greg Oden after the pair led Lawrence North to a win in states in 2006.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic, Saturday would be state championship day for high school boys basketball in Indiana.

Unfortunately, it’s not meant to be this year, but this date, March 25, has seen some tremendous title games throughout the years.

A quick note: The oldest IHSAA boys state championships were mostly decided in early to mid March. More recently though, late March has been the time to hand out titles.

1989 saw the last state championship played at Market Square Arena, and several firsts as well, including the first title for Lawrence North, the first title for legendary head coach Jack Keefer, and the first title for a Marion County Township school. Indiana-bound Todd Leary scored a game-high 26, and future North Carolina Tar Heel Eric Montross added 19 as the Wildcats dominated Kokomo 74-57 in the championship game.

In 1995, the newly named RCA Dome saw a highly anticipated #1 vs #2 showdown between Ben Davis and Merrillville. The hype did not disappoint, as Indiana Mr. Basketball Damon Frierson scored 25 for Ben Davis and the Giants’ Courtney James hit two late free throws to claim a 58-57 victory.

By the year 2000, four classes of basketball are awarded championships, and the state has moved to Conseco Fieldhouse.

4A featured heavyweights as Zach Randolph’s Marion Giants took on undefeated Bloomington North, led by Indiana Mr. Basketball Jared Jeffries and Sean May. The senior Randolph scored 28 and helped Marion win their seventh title in program history.

But that’s not all for 2000, a year that brougt Brebeuf its lone boys basketball state championship in class 3A. Future Ball State Cardinal Michael Bennett scored 26 to lead the Braves to the title.

On March 25, 2006, arguably the greatest high school team in state history sealed its place in Indiana basketball lore. Lawrence North beat Muncie Central to finish the season a perfect at 29-0. There was no stopping Greg Oden and Mike Conley all season, and their dynasty of three straight state championship wins has yet to be matched since.

Data pix.

That same day, in 3A, New Castle topped Jay County 51-43. Future Butler hoopster and now Center Grove head coach Zach Hahn poured in 29 while leading the Trojans to a state championship.

More recently, 2017 may not be old enough yet to "go down in history," but what a day that championship Saturday was.

Unranked Ben Davis completed a magical postseason run by topping Fort Wayne North Side for the 4A title. Crispus Attucks took the 3A crown with a Jamal Harris putback to beat the final buzzer. An all-class state championship record 19 steals propelled Frankton to its first title in class 2A. Tidley won in class 1A off a Hunter White tie-breaking layup with five seconds left.

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