February 28, 2024

Lutheran's LJ Ward

GAME STORY - IHSAA 1A State Champsionship game story between Indianapolis Lutheran Saints and Southwood Knights - SISN Sports News

Clayton Anderson kicked off the opening of the IHSAA Boys basketball championship, pumping up the crowd for the 1A title game between the Southwood Knights (15-12) and the Indianapolis Lutheran Saints (19-7). The Knights are coached by Christian Perry, who is 15-12 in his first year at Southwood. Lutheran is coached by Remus Woods, 72-27 in 4th year with the school.

Country Singer Clayton Anderson will open every game with his Indiana song.

We are excited for a full day at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, and this opener will be the first we have watched either team. Here’s how the game went.

Lutheran won the opening tip, and they quickly got to work down low, but Southwood was able to block two close shots in a row. The Saints came down and got their own block on Southwood’s opening possession, sending the game into a sluggish start for both teams.

Opening tip-off

Around the five-minute mark, the game started to pick up in pace, with Lutheran’s Patterson and Loescher making some big plays. Southwood would respond with their own quick baskets, and the game was off to the races, the Saints leading 7 to 4 with 3:38 seconds to go in the first quarter.

Lutheran went with the full court press after the first time out, but Southwood dissected it with ease, picking up two quick buckets and taking the lead at 8 to 7 over the Saints, which led to another quick timeout at the 2:26 minute mark of the first. Lutheran was passing it well, but turnovers continued to plague them, the jitters was still there.

The Southwood Fans were excited after the first quater.

The first quarter ended with Southwood up 10 to 9. Southwood’s Dylan Stout, a 6’4” senior forward would have 4 points, 3 rebounds. Jason Oprisek, another Southwood senior forward, had 4 points as well.

Cayden Loescher would lead the Saints with 4 points at the end of the first.

Southwood started the second quarter with a five second call on the opening inbound. Several more turnovers, pushing both teams back and forth in the opening minute, then the scoring started to get rampart and the pace picked up once again. It was 17 to 17 at the 5:16 minute mark of the second quarter. The game was on the verge of some excitement.

Indianapolis Lutheran started to pull away around the 4-minute mark, capped off by a huge break away dunk from LJ Ward, a 5’10” sophomore guard who’s averaged 13 points a game this season. The Saints would lead at the timeout break, 24-20.

Durray Smith, also came up big for the Saints in the closing minutes of the half. Smith was all over the court, getting rebounds and downing big shots. Durray would have 10 points at the 2-minute mark the of the half, and Lutheran would move their lead up to 11 at 33 to 22. The end of the second was the Smith and Ward show for the Saints.

Durray Smith was nailing shots, but he was also getting some fouls, finding himself with a three near the end of the half. He would finish the half with 13 points to lead all scorers. Cayden Loescher had 9 points, and LJ Ward added 8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and several steals and blocks to top out the leaders for the Indianapolis Lutheran Saints.

Durray Smith was lights out from behind the three.

Will Winer led the way for Southwood with 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists in the first half. Cole Winer, Dylan Stout, and Jason Oprisek all had 6 points.

Turnovers were a big key to the game at this point, Southwood with 17 to the Saints’ 9. In the first quarter, neither team could capitalize, but Indianapolis Lutheran took advantage in the second and scored 36 points, outscoring Southwood by 27 points, leading 36 to 16 at the end of the first half.

Southwood’s Cole Winer

Second Half of the Southwood vs Indianapolis Lutheran IHSAA 1A Championship Game

The Saints didn’t hold back at all to start the second half. Their offensive passing and looks were impressive, a lot of movement with no dribbling and good shots. Lutheran was going to run completely with it at this point.

Jason Oprisek tried to will Southwood back into it midway through the third, but the Saints were sharing the ball and showed no greed as they continued to slip away. LJ Ward had several impressive dunks for a player shy of six foot, and Durray Smith was continuing to hit everything from long range. It was not Southwood’s night so far.

Southwood’s Jason Oprisek

By the end of the third, it was Saints leading 77 to 49, with Indy Lutheran outscoring the Knights 32-23 in the third. Smith and Ward were still impressive for the Saints, Smith had 19 points and Ward with 14. Loescher added 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists, and Kaiden Patterson had 11 points and 7 boards for the Saints.

Southwood was led by Jason Oprisek with 13 points going into the third, the Winer’s would have 11 and 10.

Indianapolis Lutheran was just too explosive for Southwood to keep up with. This Saints team were high flying, athletic, and not afraid to share the ball. They put on an impressive showing to win the 1A IHSAA Boys Basketball State Championship, and deserve every bit of the celebration they’ll have after the game. The won 97 to 66 over Southwood.

LJ Ward was a force on the court, and just exuded a joy for the game as he zipped around everywhere making big plays. Ward was a highflyer, making dunks and soaring blocks, and my choice for player of the game would either come down to him or Durray Smith.

This will be Indianapolis Lutheran Saints’ coach Remus Woods first IHSAA Boys Basketball championship. The Saints 97 points set the record for most points in a championship game.

Indy Lutheran’s head coach Remus Woods gets his first state title win.

Cayden Loescher led all scorers with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists. Durray Smith had 21 points, LJ Ward had 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists, Kameron Patterson came off the bench with 15 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Kaiden Patterson added 10 points, and seven rebounds for the Saints.

For the Knights, Jason Oprisek finished with 17 points and 5 rebounds. Cole Winer had 15 points and 6 rebounds and his brother Will Winder had 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists.

Indy Lutheran passed the ball well, and as a team finished with 27 assists to 10 for the Knights. Southwood finished with 24 turnovers, to 18 for the Saints.

Please enjoy some of the photos we got during the game, and continue to check the site and our social media for the following games of the State tournament. Chris Marshall will be writing for the Linton-Stockton vs Fort Wayne Blackhawk game, and I will be taking photos. Stay tuned and please like and share everywhere!

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