Senior staff writer
Roncalli rocked “The Woodshed,” the nickname for its gymnasium, Friday night.
In a raucous tourneylike setting, Rebels fans – especially the student body – turned the banner-filled gym into a jump center that rivaled the Duke Cameron Crazies.
The pep band was blaring, and a capacity crowd was on hand for senior night, which featured Roncalli battling Brebeuf Jesuit to determine the Circle City Conference champs.
Coach Michael Wantz’s determined but patient boys basketball team pulled away to a 53-46 triumph and the Rebels’ first league title.
The Rebels were led by their trademarked balanced offense with Bryson Meek and Joe Kirkhoff each scoring 11 points; Kellen Schreiber had 10 and Jack Hegwood nine.
Roncalli trailed 23-17 at the half but recovered for a 38-36 third-quarter lead. The Rebels finally took control with a nine-point lead (46-37) with five minutes left.
Seniors Meek, Kirkhoff, Schreiber, Hegwood, Conner Gore, Reese McGinsie, Drew Fleming and Matthew Looney joined in the celebration that followed.
The Rebels (17-6), who have 14 consecutive winning seasons under Wantz, were among five Southside teams that won their final games of the regular season.
Beech Grove (17-5) hung on for a 62-59 win at Whiteland; Franklin Central (4-17) ended a 10-game losing skein at home against Terre Haute North, 65-63; Center Grove (16-6) dominated Columbus North, 58-41; and Lutheran (4-17) snapped an 11-game losing skid by defeating Bethesda Christian, 66-61.
After four wins in a row, Manual (14-9) lost by two points to Danville and Gary Roosevelt. Greenwood (14-8) mysteriously fell to Indian Creek and New Palestine after five straight wins. Playing its fourth game in eight days, ice-cold Perry Meridian (4-17) could not overcome visiting Martinsville. And University edged Greenwood Christian (13-9) by four points.