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The 16-year drought is over.
Norwell jumped out 10-0 and never let up, beating Peru 58-44 for the first Knights' boys sectional basketball crown since 1995. It was the first class sectional crown ever for Norwell.
"I know exactly win the last Norwell (sectional) championship was. It came my junior year," stated Norwell coach and former Bellmont standout Randy Hawkins, just after he cut down the net at the west end of the gym at Bellmont.
The Knights picked up where the left off Friday night in the comeback win over Wayne, bolting out in front of a Peru team which had the same kind of lethargic start in the semi-finals Friday against Bellmont. However, Bellmont could not sustain their play. Norwell looked like they might not be able to, letting Peru cut the lead to five to start the fourth period, but a pair of three-pointers by Josh Vanmeter and Grant Baker put the Knights back up in double figures, and on their way to a special celebration.
Hawkins felt the quick turnaround from Friday, and not having much time to prepare for plodding Tigers' team, worked in their favor.
"We knew they would want to keep the lid on, but we honestly didn't have much time to think about it. We had to concentrate on Wayne, so we just showed up here ready to do out thing. We jumped out to the 10-0 lead and kept the pedal down," stated Hawkins.
Vanmeter finished with 21 points to lead all scorers, hitting 5 of 8 three-pointers and 7 of 15 shots overall. He also dished out six assists for Norwell, which will take a 16-6 record into its regional semi-final game with Harding on Saturday.
Grant Baker, hitting 3 of 6 treys, scored 13 points, as did Jeff Shatto, who added five rebounds for Norwell. Kyle Fillman had four points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots for the winners. Garrett Bucher put in three points with four boards, while David Vogel and Aldo Sanchez both scored two points. Sanchez, the point guard, added three assists.
Luke Primerano tallied 17 for Peru , adding five rebounds, while Taylor Smith scored 10 points with six boards. Travis Smith scored 7 and Josh Hobson five points.
Norwell's defense may have had something to do with the win as the Tigers hit only 30 percent, 14 of 45, including only one three-pointer in 14 attempts. Norwell hit nearly 50 percent, 20 of 41, and did cash in on 8 of 16 from the three-point arc. Vanmeter and Baker made eight of those.
Norwell won the rebounding battle 26-21, and the Knights cashed in on 14 assists while Peru had just four assists, with four different players having one.
Peru, ranked No. 1 in 3A early in the season, finished 15-7.
It was 12-7 Norwell at the first stop, and 30-19 at half. Norwell ran the lead to 41-26 going into the fourth period, but a run of 10 straight points by Peru cut the lead to five, setting up the two treys which put Norwell back on track.
Delta, 16-7, will meet 17-5 Columbia City in the 10 a.m. contest next Saturday at Blackford. Norwell and the 9-10 Harding Hawks will clash in the 12 noon contest. The final will be Saturday night.
3A Boys Regionals
Andrean (15-8) vs. Culver Academies (16-66)
Gary Wallace (1606) vs. Western (18-4)
Delta (16-7) vs. Columbia City (17-5), 10 a.m.
Harding (9-10) vs. Norwell (16-6), 12:00
New Palestine (11-11) vs. Batesville (16-6)
Roncalli (17-5) vs. Danville (19-5)
Sullivan 20-4 vs. Corydon Central (17-6)
Evansville Bosse (19-6) vs. Washington (20-4)