Saturday, March 24, 2001

Batesville loses Indiana final

AP Sports Writer

        INDIANAPOLIS — Trai Essex scored 23 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, and David Tubbs added 12 points as Fort Wayne Harding held off a frantic fourth-quarter comeback to defeat Batesville 73-70 in the Class 2A state championship game Saturday.

        The state title was the first for Harding and the first for a team from Fort Wayne since 1974, when Northrop defeated Jeffersonville.

        Essex was named the game's MVP after setting a 2A state record with 14 rebounds. He dominated the inside and proved critical during the closing minutes when Batesville rallied from a 13-point deficit.

        It was then that Essex was at his best. He accounted for 10 of the Hawks' final 14 points, including a three-point play with 2:06 left that kept Harding in the lead and two free throws with 7.3 seconds left that sealed the victory.

        But the Hawks (23-5) also played well defensively, limiting a Batesville squad that shot 53.9 percent from the floor for the season to 46.8 percent.

        Still, Batesville (21-6) fought.

        The Bulldogs entered the final period trailing 55-42, but rallied behind the play of their two leading scorers — Matthew Robbins and Jacob Garvin.

        The two combined for 20 of the Bulldogs' 28 fourth-quarter points as they helped to methodically close the gap on Harding. Batesville got within seven with 4:19 to go, then got within 66-65 on Garvin's three-point play with 2:19 remaining.

        That's when Essex answered with his 3-point play.

        But when Harding missed four straight free throws, the Bulldogs had a chance to take the lead for the first time since the 2:55 mark of the first quarter. Batesville finally achieved that when Chris Steinfort hit two free throws with 30.2 seconds left.

        Harding's Courtney Reese then drove in for a layup with 14.5 seconds to go, giving Harding a 71-70 lead and when Robbins dribbled the ball off his leg near mid-court, the Bulldogs were forced to foul.

        Essex then hit the free throws and Robbins missed a game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer.

        Garvin set a Class 2A record by scoring 30 points, 13 in the fourth quarter, while Robbins finished with eight, seven in the final quarter. Steinfort added 16 points.

        Robbins was named the Trester Award winner for mental attitude.

        Garvin and Essex were joined on the all-tournament team by Steinfort, Tubbs and Harding's J.T. Langston.

        Batesville was making its first appearance in a state title game since 1943.

        FORT WAYNE HARDING (23-5) — Baker 3-6 0-1 6, Langston 4-7 2-2 11, Essex 8-18 7-8 23, Reese 3-6 0-3 6, Tubbs 6-11 0-1 12, King 2-3 0-0 6, Gooden 3-3 3-3 9, Norfleet 0-0 0-0 0, Greene 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 29-55 12-19 73.

        BATESVILLE (21-6) — Macyauski 2-3 0-0 6, Steinfort 5-9 4-5 16, Hertel 3-7 4-4 10, Robbins 3-11 1-2 8, Garvin 9-16 12-15 30, Weigel 0-0 0-0 0, Neumeier 0-1 0-0 0, Salvitti 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-47 21-26 70.

        Harding 18 18 19 18 —73

        Batesville 15 11 16 28 70

        3-Point Goals—Harding 3-7 (King 2-2, Langston 1-1, Reese 0-2, Tubbs 0-2), Batesville 5-11 (Macyauski 2-3, Steinfort 2-4, Robbins 1-4). Fouled out—Hertel. Rebounds—Harding 29 (Essex 14), Batesville 29 (Hertel 8). Assists—Harding 14 (Reese 6), Batesville 8 (Robbins 6). Total fouls—Harding 21, Batesville 20. A—12,077.

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