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After first regional title, Scecina one win away from state finals

Crusaders face Forest Park in Saturday's Washington semistate

Few things in sports are more rewarding than writing new history as you go along. That’s what the Scecina boys basketball team is doing now.

With last week's wins over Union County and Cloverdale, the unranked Crusaders won the program’s first regional championship. On Saturday, they’ll face No. 11 Forest Park for a trip to Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the Class 2A title game.

Scecina gave up the first 10 points against Union County, then rolled to a 14-point victory. When the final seconds ticked away in a six-point triumph over Cloverdale and mega-scorer Jalen Moore, total elation set in.

“It was amazing. Hard to put it into words,” Scecina coach Rob New said. “We went through a lot of ups and downs the last couple years with guys hurt and guys sick, and with all of them back, and winning our first regional, there was a lot of emotion, that’s for sure.”

Scecina (19-9) largely flew under the radar because its record wasn't as gaudy as some of its small-school counterparts. While they had good wins like Beech Grove and Roncalli to their credit, the Crusaders were just five games over .500 entering the tournament. That was due to a number of losses to quality teams, including Hamilton Southeastern and Merrilville in 4A, Guerin Catholic in 3A, and Attucks and Howe in 2A.

In the tournament, Scecina has won its games by an average of 10.4 points per outing.

“We beefed up our schedule a bunch this year, knowing our goal was to win the sectional,” New said. “We took some losses where our record didn’t look like a lot of teams, but we played some tough ones. I think it set us up nice come sectional time.”

Three years ago, Scecina had 16 combined varsity games played on its roster entering the season. This year, that number was more than 400, led by a starting lineup that includes three senior guards – 6-foot Cobie Dillard (13.7 points per game), 6-1 Makylin Brown (12.7 ppg) and 6-2 Kobe Clancy (10.6 ppg, 5.0 rebounds per game).

“They’ve been huge, especially these last two months, deciding, ‘Hey, this is our senior year and we want to go out and do something special,’” New said.

Other key contributors include juniors Manuel Brown (6-1; 13.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg) and Jayvon Hatton (6-2; 7.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg), and sophomores David Baker (6-4; 3.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Dylan New (5-10; 3.4 ppg).

To learn all he could about Forest Park (24-4) leading up to Saturday’s Washington semi-state, New contacted friends in the coaching community to come up with nearly all of their game films. He’s gone through three or four a day this week.

“I want to see them all before then to familiarize,” New said. “I’m starting to understand their tendencies and what certain guys do.”

On Saturday, New expects plenty of Scecina fans and alumni will make the two-hour drive south, where the Crusaders will play at the historic, 7,000-seat Hatchet House.

“We sure hope so. We can use them,” New said. “Scecina fans throughout history are great about following their teams.”

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