A total of 403 high schools started the 104th annual IHSAA boys basketball tournament in early March.
Only eight remain and the Westview Warriors are one of the schools that are set to take center stage on Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
The unranked Warriors (23-4) and the No. 1 rated Park Tudor Panthers (23-4) square off in the Class 2A finale around 12:45 p.m.
The Panthers are led by 6-6 senior Trevon Bluiett. The Xavier University recruit, who is averaging 35.6 points and 11.4 rebounds a game, is considered to be one of the leading candidates for the prestigious Mr. Basketball award.
“Bluiett is a very good scorer and he seems to have a lot of pieces around him,” Westview coach Rob Yoder said. “He faces the basket and is a really good player. He is going to be a tough match-up for us as he is for most teams. We have a few days to prepare for guarding him. We have some guys with the length to hopefully bother his shots and others with quick enough feet to stay with him.
“The team does a lot of shooting from the outside and a lot of penetrating to the basket. The Panthers seem to be more of a team that is set up to score facing the basket than with their back to it.”
Westview won 2A state championships in 1999 and 2000.
“This year was the third time in the last nine years we made it to the semistate, but the first time we have been back to the state finals,” Yoder said.
Park Tudor captured the 2A crown in 2011 and 2012 when current Indiana University point guard Yogi Ferrell was leading the Panthers.
“Trevon is a great player and he does a great job of creating his own offense,” Park Tudor coach Kyle Cox said. “He has had three guys draped on him in a lot of games and we have had to move him all over the floor.
“We like to play at a fast pace, but we can play both ways. We have a lot of talented players and we like to use their talents. We have a number of players that would be stars at other schools. Here they are more role players.”
The rest of the expected staring lineup for the Panthers is 6-2 junior point guard Bryce Moore (11.2 ppg), 5-11 senior guard Austin Shelton (10.5), 6-1 senior guard Alex Mack (8.6) and 6-4 junior forward Dwayne Gibson (8.7).
“Moore is usually the player we put on the opposing team’s best offensive player,” Cox said. “Shelton is nice overall player who is a great shooter and an underrated athlete. Mack does a lot of things for us, including stretching the defense with his 3-point shooting. Gibson is also a very good player that has a long wingspan.”
One of the top reserves for the Panthers is 6-8 junior forward Evan Frank (4.2 ppg). According to the coach, Frank was in double figures in both points and rebounds in the two regional wins.
“Bluiett has to be our focus,” Yoder said. “We have to keep him somewhat in check to do that we might have to let someone else go.