March 26, 2016
Liberty Christian Earns First State Title in School History
With its back against the wall in the Class A final, Liberty Christian didn’t flinch.
Having watched almost all of a 12-point lead over No. 3 Bloomfield evaporate, the top-ranked Lions went on an 18-0 fourth-quarter run to pull away from the Cardinals 64-45. It was the school’s first state championship and first basketball title for an Anderson school since 1946.
Leading 44-43 with 7:22 left in the game, the Lions held the Cardinals scoreless for nearly seven minutes in stretching their advantage to 62-43. Greg Dixon and Franklin Nunn combined for 12 points during the surge, which saw Liberty Christian force five turnovers and force the Cardinals into six straight misses.
Up 32-28 at halftime, Liberty Christian opened the third quarter with an 8-0 run to extend the advantage to 40-28. But the Cardinals chipped away at the lead, eventually getting within a point on Eli Combs’ rebound basket 38 seconds into the fourth quarter. But the Lions took control from there, shooting 8-11 from the floor over the final seven minutes to pull away.
Nunn finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and four steals for the Lions, who ended up 26-4 under Coach Jason Chappell. Caleb Hardy added 14 points and five rebounds, while Dixon chipped in 12 points and two steals, and Ronny Williams 10 points, five assists and five steals. The Lions’ 17 steals were one shy of tying the Class A championship-game record set by Bowman Academy in 2010.
Bloomfield, making its first state-finals appearance since 1998, finished 26-4 under Coach Matt Britton. The Cardinals got 19 points and six rebounds from Brandon Van Sant, 10 points from Eli Combs, and nine points and six rebounds from Zach Skinner.
Listen: Liberty Christian Press Conference | Lapel Press Conference
Eli Combs of Bloomfield wins Ray Craft Mental Attitude Award
Following the game, members of the IHSAA Executive Committee named Eli Combs of Bloomfield High School as the winner of the Ray Craft Mental Attitude Award in Class A Boys Basketball.
The award is annually presented to a senior participant in the state finals who best demonstrates mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability and is nominated by his principal and coach.
Currently ranked fourth in his class, Ethan carries a 4.3 GPA. Not only is Eli an exceptional student and athlete, he is also a member of National Honor Society, Art Club, Spanish Club, and Beta Club to mention a few.
Eli is the son of John and Gwen Combs of Bloomfield. Although Eli has not selected his college, he plans to study a STEM related field, either mathematics, physics, or engineering.
Beginning in 2016, the Class A award has been re-named in honor of Ray Craft, the long-time associate commissioner who served from 1983 to 2008. Craft was involved at nearly every level of Indiana secondary education and interscholastic athletics during his career including administering the boys basketball state tournament for many years. He was also a starting senior guard on Milan High School’s 1954 state championship basketball team.
The Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever, the presenting sponsor of the IHSAA Boys Basketball State Tournament, presented a $1,000 scholarship to Bloomfield High School in the name of Eli Combs. Since 1989, more than $840,000 in college scholarships have been presented to deserving high school athletes in Indiana.