The Sterling Black Bears magical run throughout the Class 2A state tournament ended in a dismantling of the top-ranked and undefeated Meade Buffaloes 71-49 on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum.
Using an up-tempo attack in the state championship game, Meade’s 6-foot-8 Randy Friesen, who was averaging nearly a triple-double through the tournament, was unable to reach double figures in any stat, scoring seven points, grabbing nine rebounds and blocking nine shots.
“We had to eliminate Friesen,” Sterling head coach Derek Schneider said. “If not, two things would have happened, he would have fouled Austin out or he would have scored 30. We knew that we had to run the floor just to get them out underneath the basket.”
Gunner Cordes was the catalyst for Meade and scored a team-high 17 points, even recording his own personal 6-0 run in the first half to keep Meade close.
By pushing the tempo, the sixth-seeded Bears were able to get two Meade starters, Morgan Davis and Adrian Pfanenstiel, in to early foul trouble. After taking a one-point lead at halftime, the Bears never looked back in the second half.
“I think that pace wore on them,” Schneider said. “That second half is how we’ve been playing all year.”
Sterling post Austin Maxwell, who averaged 15 points and 13 rebounds through the state tournament, had 20 points and 17 rebounds against Meade.
“He wanted it in the tournament,” Schneider said. “Even when he got double and triple-teamed, he was going to score.”
Maxwell picked up his fourth foul and it looked like momentum was going to switch to Meade’s side. But Sterling’s guards picked up the slack, as they had done all year.
Seth Humphreys also recorded a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds. Matthew Dewerff had 10 and Bryant Patterson had nine points.
After surviving overtime against Jefferson County North, 64-62, Sterling got past the defending state champs Berean Academy in a defensive grinder.
This is the school’s first state championship in basketball.