New generation of Westview Warriors hope to add to hoops history
TOPEKA, Ind. - At this point in the Indiana high school basektball tournament, only four teams remain from each class, meaning they're closer to leaving a lasting legacy.
For the Westview Warriors, this weekend is a chance to add to an already special history at their school.
Westview enters 2A Semi-State on Saturday against Oak Hill with a 28-1 record, which they attribute to the closeness of the roster.
"We've got great team chemistry," said junior Elijah Hales. "We all have a great love for the game. I think those two things combine to make us a really strong team and makes us want to work really hard in practice every day. That's led to the results."
After a sectional title, the two latest results - wins over Fort Wayne Canterbury and Andrean - captured a regional title for the first time since 2014. One more victory would send them to state for the first time since that season, when the core group was still in middle school.
"Semi-State is a different floor for them but big crowds are not new to them," said head coach Rob Yoder. "In 2014, most of these guys were there so they know what it's like."
"I'm fortunate to be at a school that has gotten there," said Hales. "I've had a chance to see it as a fan. Now, to be there as a player it's just really special."
Westview also holds claim to two state championships in its history, when the Warriors won back-to-back titles in 1999 and 2000. While that may seem relatively recent, consider the fact that none of the current players were born at the time. Still, there's plenty of experience around the program.
"You look up at the banners and it's incredible," said junior Nick Rensberger. "Our coaches were on, or at least coaching, those teams when they went to state so they know a thing or two about helping us achieve what we want to achieve."
Though the last state title came before their time, the way their school and community embrace the Warriors shows just how much another championship would mean to the area.
“Even though I haven't seen Westview win a state championship in my lifetime, I've still gotten a taste," said Hales. "Living in Indiana, I think everyone - regardless of what school you go to - dreams about playing for a state title someday. This is really a basketball community. You can see that by all the fan support we get. It just inspires us even more to play hard."
“This community really relies on basketball," Rensberger added. "Everyone loves basketball here. Everyone pretty much plays basketball. To be able to [represent] on such a big stage like Bankers Life or even Semi-State which we’re focusing on right now, it’s amazing. A lot of it feels good for us, but it ties into the community. We try to win for them.”
Westview and Oak Hill will play at Huntington North on Saturday. Tip is scheduled for 6 p.m. Eastern time.