- Associated Press - Friday, March 28, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Arsenal Tech coach Jason Delaney sees Saturday’s state finals as more than just an opportunity to revive basketball in the Indianapolis Public Schools.

It’s a chance for Tech to finally win a state title.

Since 1915, the Titans have been chasing this elusive crown. They made it three times between 1929 and 1952 but haven’t been back since 1966 - and they’re hoping to cap a historic season with the biggest celebration of all.

“It’s really been a special season to be a part of high school basketball in the state,” Delaney said. “It’s been a while since we’ve had a year like this one.”

It’s been a remarkable year around the state, and Delaney’s Titans (26-2) have had a big part in it.

Tech will become the first Indianapolis city school to play for a title in 34 years when it takes on Lake Central (22-3) for the Class 4A state in the final game of the day. Kentucky recruit Trey Lyles, one of the leading contenders for Mr. Basketball, has carried Tech by averaging 24 points and 12.9 rebounds.

And the Titans already know what to expect. Back in January, Tech beat Lake Central by 19 points. The Indians are led by 6-7 Tyler Wideman, a Butler recruit who averages 15.7 points and 7.1 rebounds.

But that big win was only a start for Tech.

The next day, Lyles & Co. defeated powerhouse Park Tudor 95-88 in overtime - a game in which Lyles scored 45 points and Trevon Bluiett, a Xavier recruit and fellow Mr. Basketball contender, had 51 for Park Tudor.

If basketball fans stick around Bankers Life Fieldhouse long enough Saturday, they’ll see the two high-scoring, high-profile stars one more time.

Park Tudor (23-4) is chasing its third Class 2A title in four years against Westview (23-4) in Game 2. Bluiett comes into the game averaging 35.6 points and with a personal challenge - one-upping Lyles.

“I know they’ve gotten to be pretty good friends and they try to outdo one another,” Park Tudor coach Kyle Cox said. “But what they’ve brought to the table this year for high school basketball in Indiana, it’s been pretty special.”

Delaney and Cox have also become fans of one another as they carry the banner for Indianapolis this weekend.

“I really hope they (Tech) can get it done and bring back that pride to the IPS community,” Cox said.

While Tech and Park Tudor have close ties and two of the state’s biggest stars, there are plenty of story lines to cap this remarkable season.

Perennial Class A power Barr-Reeve (26-1) faces Marquette Catholic in the first title game of the day.

Barr-Reeve has been ranked No. 1 all season and is playing in its fourth title game since 2002. But it’s never won the title.

This year, they’re up against 6-8 Ryan Fazekas (13.4 points, 7.6 rebounds) and the first Michigan City school to make the title game since Michigan City Elston in 1966. Fazekas is headed to Providence next season.

“It would be the perfect end to what has been a great season,” Barr-Reeve coach Bryan Hughes said. “It’s our fourth trip to the state championship and we’ve always ended runner-up. We’re anxious to get that first state title.”

The Class 3A game is scheduled to tip at 6 p.m. and features defending champion Greensburg (27-1) and Bowman Academy (22-4).

Justin King and Arthur Haggard III lead third-ranked Bowman, which is trying to become the first Indiana school to win state titles in three different classes. The Eagles won the 1A title in 2010 and the 2A title last season.

But the Lake Central-Tech game promises to be the biggest and most intriguing draw of the night - especially for a team that has captivated many in the state’s capital city.

“It’s been awesome to see our own community come out and support us the way it has this year,” Delaney said. “There’s obviously a lot of excitement around here right now, but it’s just an exciting time for high school basketball in Indiana.”

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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