The Flying Tigers of Crispus Attucks are headed back to the 3A semi-state game for the second time in three years on Saturday, March 16.

It’s a step closer to the team’s quest for another championship title, but one that comes during what has been a challenging season. Attucks finished the regular season 15-8, compared to 2018’s record of 17-4, and the 2017 state championship year in which the Tigers finished 18-4.

Many wondered if the team had what it takes to make a push in the tournament this year, but Attucks coach Chris Hawkins built out this year’s schedule with the intention of challenging his team.

The Tigers’ strength of schedule ranks higher than all other teams in the 3A class.

“We definitely created our schedule that way on purpose,” said Hawkins, who led the team during its 2017 championship win. “Looking down the road, as you advance in the tournament and you get into the later rounds, you want to be prepared to play high-level teams. That has really set us up for this postseason run, which was our goal.”

With regular season matchups against the formidable Warren Central High School (2018’s 4A state champ) and the La Lumiere School, a college prep boarding school in LaPorte County, the Tigers came into sectionals battle-tested and ready for the task ahead.

After coming away with a first-round victory over host school Guerin Catholic, Attucks faced off against a Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School team that handed them a one-point defeat just one month earlier. The Tigers overcame an 8-point halftime deficit to secure a win in the sectional semifinal game before defeating Cardinal Ritter in the title game, bringing home the team’s third consecutive sectional championship.

Attucks, however, had greater aspirations as they came into regionals in Greencastle. The team came out with a purpose in their first regional contest, pulling away early against Owen Valley and finishing with a 27-point win. Beech Grove would prove to be a tougher challenge that evening, playing spirited basketball after losing their beloved longtime head coach Matt English to brain cancer in December. In the end, Attucks came out ahead after a hard-fought game to claim the regional title.

Up next?

The Tigers (now 20-8) will face their strongest tournament opponent yet in Silver Creek (23-3) in the semi-state game in Seymour, Ind., on Saturday, March 16. Tipoff is at 3p.m.

The winner of this contest will go on to compete against the winner of Marion vs. Culver Academies for the IHSAA 3A State Championship Game on March 23 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.