Thursday afternoon, a group of country kids from here in Northern Indiana boarded a bus bound for a golden opportunity waiting for them in Indianapolis. What happens next for the Westview High School boys basketball team is up to them. Just like winning a sectional championship was up to them. Just like beating No. 5 Hammond Noll in the regional was up to them. And just like upsetting No. 7 Lewis Cass for the 2A Northern Semistate title was up to them.
At approximately 12:45 p.m. on Saturday, Westview will battle Park Tudor in the 2014 IHSAA 2A State Finals at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis (The Pacers beat the Miami Heat there Wednesday night). Both teams will be playing for their third 2A state title. Westview won back-to-back titles in 1999 and 2000. Park Tudor won back-to-back state championships in 2011 and 2012 and has been in the final game four out of the past five years.
EVEN IN THIS ERA of Indiana four-class basketball — now 16 years old — there is still a David-vs.-Goliath feel to Saturday’s game. About the closest thing these two schools seem to have in common, other than successful pedigrees, is enrollment: Westview, 339 and Park Tudor, 421.
After that, the differences are stark.
Westview is the heart of Emma, Ind., a rural crossroads community with scores of residents. It draws students from western LaGrange County, including Topeka (pop. 1,161) and Shipshewana (pop. 666). Park Tudor High School is tucked just north of East 71st Street on the north side of Indianapolis. It draws students from throughout the Indianapolis Metro region, which has a population of 844,220 people (2012 calculation), which ranks 13th among all U.S. cities.
Westview’s two tallest players — senior Judah Zickafoose and junior Chandler Aspy — are listed at 6-foot-3. Park Tudor lists six players ranging from 6-foot-3 to 6-foot-8, including senior Xavier University recruit Trevon Bluiett at 6-foot-6. Bluiett leads the state in scoring, with a per-game average of 35.6 points, and is considered one of the front-runners to win the Indiana Mr. Basketball award. His average is 2.6 points more than Westview’s two top scores — Senior Jordyn Bontrager and Aspy — combined.