Washington continued its dominance in Class 3A, defeating Culver Academies 61-46 to collect its second consecutive state championship and fourth since 2005.
Nine seconds into the game, Cody Zeller provided a glimpse of things to come when he drove the baseline for a three-point play. Zeller, playing on his third state championship team with the Hatchets, went on to record 20 points and 18 rebounds. Zeller’s older brothers, Luke (2005) and Tyler (2008), also led Washington to state titles.
The list of milestones for Washington didn’t end there. It was the Hatchets’ seventh overall state championship, tying them with Marion for second on the all-time list. Muncie Central owns the state record of eight titles.
Also, coach Gene Miiller, who has led Washington to its last three state titles, became the ninth coach in Indiana history with three or more championships. The Hatchets, ranked No. 1 by the Associated Press, finished 24-4.
Washington used an 18-2 run to open a 13-point lead late in the second quarter. The Hatchets shot 73 percent (8-of-11) to Culver’s 27 percent (3-of-11) in the quarter. Washington’s shooting cooled in the second half, but the Hatchets extended their lead to 16 points in the fourth quarter by relying on their 38-21 rebounding edge in the game.
Dylan Ervin totaled 18 points and six rebounds for Washington, and Anthony Curtis had 10 points and four assists.
Coach Mark Galloway’s unranked Culver team was playing in its first state championship game after winning the school’s first sectional three weeks ago. Jermaine Myers led the Eagles with 17 points. Juwan Brescacin scored 12, and Chier Ajou added 10 points. The Eagles finished 19-7.
WASHINGTON’S CODY ZELLER NAMED TRESTER AWARD WINNER
Following the game, members of the IHSAA Executive Committee named Cody Zeller of Washington High School as the winner of the Arthur L. Trester Mental Attitude Award in Class 3A Boys Basketball.
Zeller is a four year varsity letter winner and a three-time participant in the Class 3A state championship game.
He ranks second in his senior class of 159 students with a 3.99 GPA pursuing the most rigorous academic courses at his school and will earn an Academic Honors diploma. He will play basketball at Indiana University beginning next year where he plans to study business.
He is an active member of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, volunteers at Camp Illiana and Habitat for Humanity and participates annually in the Dr. Seuss “Read Across America” program in area elementary schools.
He is the son of Steve and Lorri Zeller of Washington. Brother Luke was the 2005 winner of the Trester Award.
The award is named after the IHSAA’s first commissioner who served the Association from 1929 to 1944. The award is annually presented to a senior participant in the state finals who best demonstrates mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability.
Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, the IHSAA’s corporate partner, presented a $1,000 scholarship to Washington High School in the name of Zeller.
Washington Coach Gene Miller
“The difference was defensively we played very well and we scored enough to win the ballgame. We didn’t do a good job on the board at times and we didn’t do a very good job taking care of the basketball. This was probably the worst ball handling we’ve had since the tournament started.”
“This was special for our school and our community to win back-to-back state titles and three out of the last four years. I don’t think there is a better basketball community in the state of Indiana than Washington. They love their basketball. Our gym seats 7,000. It was not full every game, but it was pretty close.”
“It’s a tremendous feeling to win the state championship one time, but you never get tired of it. They were all great experiences.”
“Cody Zeller deserves to be the Trester Award winner. He is an outstanding young man and player. He is also a great student and has high character.”
(On coaching the three Zeller brothers) “They were all very coachable and they work very hard.”
“Robert Pittman did a tremendous job today and in the tournament defensively. Our two starting guards Dylan Ervin and Kurtis Anthony were back from last year and they gave us stability.”
“Culver is very physical, aggressive basketball team. They are very tough and hard-nosed. We tried to be aggressive and get the ball to Cody, attack the basket, and cut and screen. We did a good job of moving the basketball and scoring off our defense.”
Culver Academies Coach Mark Galloway
“You have to give Washington a lot of credit for their experience, their size, and how well they are coached.”
“As coaches we are so proud of our guys. Thinking back to day one of our first practice we’ve come a long way. I’m proud of them for what they have done in the classroom and on the floor.”
“If you would have seen our first practice, then to talk about being in the state championship game I wouldn’t have believed it. Just because of how hard we had to work and how far we had to come.”
(On size playing a factor) “A lot of people talked about us having a seven- footer and how that would affect their play, but I really think their size affected our play. Zeller was blocking shots and changing shots.”
“They did a great job being the aggressive team and attacked and got easy buckets.”
(On getting in foul trouble) “When you get in foul trouble your team fouls add up and it sends them to the line earlier in the half.”