SEYMOUR — Déjà vu.
Bosse, again wearing gray uniforms, trailed by one during the final minute. Sound familiar?
The Bulldogs couldn’t overcome a late, one-point deficit during last year’s heartbreaking loss at state. Being that close to a championship was their motivation all season.
They were supposed to get another shot on the floor inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse. That was the plan since they left Indianapolis last spring.
Indianapolis Crispus Attucks was the only obstacle standing in the way. Down one with 54 seconds to go, Bosse had a shot at redemption. Instead, another season ended in heartbreak. Bosse lost 84-77 in Saturday’s 3A Seymour Semistate.
“We didn’t want to end it here,” junior guard Jaylin Chinn said. “We wanted to end it in Indianapolis, Bankers Life. That’s my dream. We failed.”
Bosse, understandably, was devastated. But it shouldn’t be. The Bulldogs hadn’t won back-to-back regionals since 1962-63 until this group came along. Repeating is hard.
“What you do for this school and what you’ve done for this team, you have nothing to be ashamed of,” coach Shane Burkhart told the Bulldogs after the game.
Bosse trailed by 10 points early in the fourth quarter before storming back as Attucks missed free throws. Mekhi Lairy scored 16 of his team-high 30 points in the final period, despite cramps in his left calf limiting him to a point of immobility at one point.
“We never gave up and that’s what I love about this team,” Lairy said.
Lairy missed much of the second quarter because he had two early fouls. Others had to step up when he was on the bench, like senior Javien Langley.
Lairy did the same for Langley last weekend. It was his turn to return the favor. He said he gave everything he had to his teammates with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
“For me, this hurts worse than state because it’s my senior year. It’s my last time with these guys,” Langley said.
Chinn added 14 points and Jaidon Hunter 10 while Attucks junior Jamal Harris had 30 and senior Zac Owens 20.
As seniors, Hunter and Langley, along with Nicely Tsianguebeni, Trey Johnson and Romeo Parker, took off a Bosse jersey for the final time.
“It’s really an honor to get this far and play with this team as long as we did,” Hunter said. “I love these guys. I know they’ll be back here next year and they’ll win state.”
Lairy averaged 30.1 points in six postseason games and his 644 this year are 25 shy of the program’s single-season record. He and Chinn will be their catalysts again next season. That doesn’t make losing any easier.
“It hurts so bad, I can’t explain it,” Chinn said. “But I wouldn’t want to be here with anybody else. I wouldn’t want to lose this with anybody else. I wouldn’t want to win it with anybody else.”
The Bulldogs are family. They’ll appreciate their accomplishments more as time goes on. A 20-win season sectional title and regional title can’t be taken away from them.
“It’s going to sit with me because we were that close,” Burkhart said. “Sometimes, as a competitor, you’d rather lose early and get it over with than get to this point and have all the heartache.”