Carmel wins first regional since 1991
Carmel's players were not even a twinkle in their parents' eyes the last time the Corsairs boys basketball team won a regional.
It was 1991 the last time that had happened, but now the regional drought is officially over.
Carmel topped host Ridgewood 55-50 on Friday in a Class 3A regional title game in Norridge.
The Corsairs advance to the semifinals of the Antioch sectional and will face Lakes on Wednesday.
"Early in the year we might have lost a game like this," said Carmel coach Tim Bowen. "With the hard work and dedication these players have, in this season they deserve this title. I am so proud of them."
The win over the 18-10 Rebels did not come easily.
In fact, it was nail-biting time in the game's last 2:45.
Carmel (14-13) went into the fourth quarter with a relatively safe 47-34 lead.
The Corsairs had weathered a Rebels but still led 40-34 with 2:03 left in the third quarter.
Baskets by Cullen Barr, Michael Barr and a last-second 3-pointer by Greg Edkins seemed to break Ridgewood's back.
But the Rebels hit four 3-point baskets in a 16-4 run to close to 51-50.
Carmel's last turnover with 1:25 did not help Ridgewood as Mike Morawiec's shot from the corner missed with 25 seconds left. Nickai Poyser (9 points) grabbed the rebound.
Moments later, Michael Barr (19 points) was fouled and hit 2 free throws with 18 seconds left. He hit both ends of the one-and-bonus for a 53-50 lead.
"I was nervous at first," Barr said. "But I practice my free throws and I was confident when I stepped to the line."
Ridgewood's Anthony Mroz (9 points) tried for a 3-pointer with two seconds left but missed.
Poyser grabbed the rebound, was fouled and hit both free throws with half a second left.
"This is just awesome," said Michael Barr. "It's been so long since we won a regional. We just played together and worked hard together to win this."
Cullen Barr scored 16 points and pulled down 8 rebounds, all of which seemed to come in key situations.
"Cullen has just been solid all year," Bowen said. "He's our leader and captain. Everything that we've worked for he's been there for us. That is why I wanted him to be the last player to cut down the regional net."
"I'm just on cloud nine," said Cullen. "The transformation from the beginning of this season until now is incredible. But hats off to Ridgewood. They made the run at us in the fourth quarter. We knew that they could do that. One of my goals was that before I left Carmel I wanted to win a regional title."
Ridgewood was led by Adam Krozel and Igor Cirkovic each with 11 points apiece.
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