GAME STORY: Holba hits 30 as Guerin soars (TheTimes24-7.com)
INDIANAPOLIS — The sports adage is that it’s hard to beat the same team twice.
That’s what 2nd-ranked Guerin Catholic has to do to win Class 3A’s Sectional 26 today — beat No.9 Brebeuf Jesuit again. Guerin coach Pete Smith thinks it will be a challenge.
Guerin (19-3) handled Brebeuf, 76-60, Jan. 24 at home with senior Aaron Brennan, junior Matt Holba and sophomore Christian Munson each scoring in double figures.
“It’s really going to come down to little things,” Holba said. “It’s going to come down to our defense and rebounding. They’re going to miss their shots and we’ve got to make sure we don’t give them second chances.”
Much of the talk Friday night after Guerin’s semifinal win over Indianapolis Herron was whether Brebeuf senior standout P.J. Thompson would play in the title game. Thompson injured his foot in the regular season finale against Carmel. He sat out Brebeuf’s semifinal win over Bishop Chatard with a walking boot on his foot.
Smith expects Thompson to play today for the 15-5 Braves.
“If he doesn’t play, they were pretty good without him this year,” Smith said, recalling the Braves’ win over Lawrence North Dec. 13 in which Thompson was a spectator.
In the first Guerin-Brebeuf contest, Thompson scored 18 points.
Herron got off to a fast start in Friday’s semifinal, but that didn’t necessarily surprise Smith.
“That’s a very dangerous team,” Smith said. “They’re lightning quick, so we played more zone than we normally do. I don’t expect us to play as much zone (against Brebeuf).”
Smith wasn’t pleased with the rebounding effort, allowing 15 Herron offensive rebounds (12 in the second half.)
Junior Matt Labus brought down four rebounds coming off the bench, but Smith think his impact on the boards is bigger than the stats might show.
“Labus blocked out as good anybody,” Smith said. “That allowed Whitt and Holba to get some rebounds.”
Holba’s 30 points was impressive, but Smith sees other things besides the scoring that make a difference.
“He sees the floor so well,” Smith said. “Even though he doesn’t credit for a lot of assists, he gets the ball up so fast.”
Smith bragged on senior point guard Whit Rapp again in the regular season finale as Rapp continued to pile up the assists while avoiding turnovers.
Against Herron Friday, Rapp notched 13 assists, but turned the ball over five times.
“He tried to do a couple things and didn’t realize how fast a couple of those guys were,” Smith said. “He pushed (the break) just like I told him to, but sometimes it was just a little bit too much.”
“I’ll take the blame for some of his turnovers.”
Among the injured (most minor) in Friday’s game was senior Cris Burrough, who was poked in the eye by an opponent’s finger. Burrough got treatment from the Guerin training staff, but later in the contest had to shoot free throws. He missed both shots but said later he saw two rims because of injury to his eye.
“I had to shoot with one eye,” Burrough said with a smile.
Senior reserve Stuart Schultz’s story has been well documented. Being back on the court after successfully fighting lymphoblastic leukemia is considered by many to be a miracle.
He scored his first point earlier against Indianapolis Howe Dec. 20, sinking a free throw. When he grabbed a rebound on Senior Night against Pendleton Heights, the home crowd went nuts.
He can add another first to his special season — his first field goal.
Schultz hit a short jumper with 2:15 left in Friday’s game..
After his big moment, Schultz was quick to deflect praise.
“I really owed Nick Sahm that because he’s passed to me so many times and I’ve blown it,” Schultz said. “That was my one thought as I shot it — I want to get him an assist.”
Sahm got his assist, Schultz got his first 2-point basket and the Guerin crowd got an exclamation point in its semifinal win.
“It felt good when I saw it go in the basket,” Smith said with a smile.
Schultz left the game with 0:48 left to a standing ovation from the Guerin crowd with a smile on his face and another accomplishment in his journey back.
Since starting IHSAA tournament play in 2007, Guerin is 19-6 in the tournament. The Golden Eagles have made it to the sectional finals every year but two.