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MARION – State championship-caliber teams never get down on themselves, as New Haven learned on Saturday night.
The Bulldogs led top-ranked Carmel by four with just over six minutes in regulation in the championship game of the Class 4A Marion Regional. But the Greyhounds scored 17 of the game's final 24 points to earn a 63-57 victory and advance to next week's semistate.
It is Carmel's second consecutive regional championship and prevented New Haven from earning its first crown in school history.
The Greyhounds (23-2) made 22-of-26 free throws overall, including 15-of-17 in the fourth quarter.
“They made their free throws down the stretch,” New Haven coach Al Gooden said. “We missed a couple of good shots and that was the game.”
The Bulldogs (18-6) were within two at 59-57 with less than two minutes to go when Monte Stevenson had a clean look at a 3-pointer from the corner. It was just short and Carmel grabbed the rebound, then sealed the game with four free throws.
“We had some good shots,” Gooden said. “Even the last shot Monte took, that's a good shot he just missed it. He was wide open, he just missed it.”
V.J. Beachem finished with 17 points to lead New Haven, but for the second time in two games Saturday he did not get into a rhythm until the fourth quarter. Through three quarters, the Notre Dame signee was 3-of-9 from the field for nine points.
Beachem's biggest shot came early in the fourth, a 3-pointer that gave New Haven its first lead since a 19-18 advantage in the second quarter. The Bulldogs crowd erupted, but Carmel stayed composed and took the lead back for good on a pair of free throws by junior Zach McRoberts with just under five minutes remaining.
New Haven's woes from 3-point range continued Saturday night. After hitting just 1-of-16 in the victory over Northrop earlier in the day, the Bulldogs went 5-of-18 against the Greyhounds.
“I'm proud of my kids,” Gooden said. “They battled, they worked hard, they did the things we asked them.”
Junior Steve McElvene, who captured the attention of those in attendance throughout the day with his talents, finished with 15 points and 17 rebounds against Carmel as well as a pair of blocks. For the two regional games, McElvene totaled 39 points, 33 rebounds and 10 blocked shots.
Carmel advances to play unranked Merrillville (22-3) at either Lafayette Jefferson or Huntington North next Saturday.
Carmel - 15 16 15 17 - 63
New Haven - 12 15 16 14 - 57
Carmel - Cline 12, Crowley 24, James Volovic 3, McRoberts 16, Michael Volovic 8.
New Haven - Stevenson 13, Wattley 3, Ray 5, Beachem 17, Curry 4, McElvene 15.