'They give me pride:' Wapahani boys' basketball falls in 2A State Championship

<p>Senior guard Isaac Andrews hugs his father after losing to Brownstown Central March 30 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Andrews won the Mental Attitude Award. Andrew Berger, DN</p>

Senior guard Isaac Andrews hugs his father after losing to Brownstown Central March 30 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Andrews won the Mental Attitude Award. Andrew Berger, DN

INDIANAPOLIS - One thing that Wapahani boys’ basketball head coach Matt Luce has said all year is how proud he is of his four seniors, with their attitude being the No. 1 trait that makes them who they are. 

When he stepped up to the microphone during the post-game press conference after falling in the IHSAA 2A State Finals to Brownstown Central, the 17-year Raiders’ commander-in-chief looked at the three seniors that sat next to him; Isaac Andrews, Mason Barton, and Nick Cook. 

“Words don't explain how proud I am of our basketball team today and the entire season,” he said. “These [seniors] are kids I have grown up with since kindergarten and first grade. I've seen Isaac Andrews make those shots for a long, long time… These are my guys.”

The group he talked about did multiple things for the Raiders (26-3). From leading them to the program’s first and second regional championship, first semi-state championship, and ending their careers at the red and white’s first-ever IHSAA 2A State Finals appearance, the accomplishments continue. 

“The truth is that when you run into guys like these three that just do everything for their coach,” he said. “We've had no bad practices and no bad days. I have bad days, but they keep you humble and keep you coming back.”

To Luce, an example of this is Andrews, who finished his high school basketball career as the school’s and Delaware County’s all-time leading scorer. While his accolades are a part of his likeness, the Selma, Indiana community will tell you that his attitude makes him who he is. 

That came true once more when he was awarded the game’s Mental Attitude Award. After winning the award, he hugged his family including his dad, who has been an assistant coach with Wapahani for Andrew's entire career. 

“It was a special moment,” Andrews said. “Just being out there with my family… I just give credit to them for raising me the right way.”

Before the game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse tipped off, the Raiders were cheered for by a sea of red. 

“It was awesome to see everybody come out to support us,” Barton said. “My family, my friends [being here] I think it really helped and I think it was awesome.”

While the fans in the stands showed the Raiders what they were playing for, the attendance numbers were expected. Throughout the week leading up to the game, the community hosted multiple dinners for the team to try and honor them the best they could. 

“We had to turn people away because they had too much food,” Andrews said. “We didn't think we were gonna get up and down the court.” 

The contest with the Braves (28-4) opened with the Raiders struggling on offense. While it wasn’t a normal issue the red and white are used to seeing, it appeared today as shots that found the middle of the basket rimmed out. After going 3-for-8, Wapahani found itself down 18-7 at the end of the opening quarter.

The second period wasn’t much different as the Raiders’ continued to miss shots. But according to Andrews — who led with 21 points — the red and white did not get this far to not take chances.

“I just knew I had to do anything whether I was shooting a bunch of shots or if that was passing the ball,” Andrews said. “I  had to get the shots up.” 

Going into the break, Wapahani trailed the black and red 31-14. However, something changed in the locker room. The red and white were not going home without a fight. 


Wapahani head coach Matt Luce hugs players after losing to Brownstown Central March 30 at IHSAA State Finals at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Wapahani lost 55-36. Andrew Berger, DN

“I'd love to make something up and I'd love to tell you how great of a coach I am,” Luce said, chuckling. “Our guys just kind of sat down, took a breath and said, ‘Hey, we're better than this.” 

They came out with momentum on offense, hitting their first three shots. A few minutes later, they found themselves only down 34-28. 

“To make adjustments, fight back and to cut it to six points and make use of timeouts shows the grit and the heart of our team,” Luce said. 

However, the Braves rallied once more and controlled the rest of the game with their ability to knock down shots. Senior, and Purdue commit Jack Benter, led Brownstown with 25 points. 

“I’d pay money to watch that Brownstown Central team play because they act right and they play right and play together,” Luce said. “Same thing with these guys [next to me because] they are awesome young men.

“They give me pride and they should give the rest of us pride. The future's bright for Indiana and America with guys like this. I know it's deep, but it's true.”

Near the end of the contest, Luce called a timeout to allow the community to give Wapahani’s seniors a standing ovation. While the Raiders are proud of what they did this season, the hunger to repeat the tournament run lives inside them. 

“They have three awesome seniors to look up to,” Luce said. “It's tough because again, these are our best friends and our family. But [the future seniors] just want to have the opportunity to play their senior year the same way. 

Throughout his career at Wapahani, Andrews has been a man of few words when talking about himself. When asked about his final message to the community, he ended his final high school basketball interview with the same mindset. 

“I love you guys,” he said. 

Contact Zach Carter with comments at zachary.carter@bsu.edu or on X@ZachCarter85.


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