ELKHART – A comeback for the ages.
That’s what high school basketball fans witnessed inside venerable North Side Gym Saturday night.
Elkhart Memorial gave new meaning to the phrase Hoosier Hysteria with an improbable rally to earn a sectional championship.
The Crimson Chargers erased a 21-point third quarter deficit to stun Northridge 62-50 in the finale of the Class 4-A Elkhart Sectional.
Memorial claims the ninth sectional title in program history and its first since 2012. The Chargers, who are 13-12, will play Valparaiso (20-5) in a semifinal matchup in the Michigan City Regional next Saturday at 11 a.m.. Valparaiso defeated Merrillville 46-43 Saturday night to win the Chesterton Sectional. Undefeated South Bend Riley will meet Lake Central in the second semifinal game at approximately 1 p.m. The regional finale will be at 8 p.m.
Northridge, which defeated the Chargers 63-55 in Midddlebury on Jan. 20, finishes at 13-11.
Memorial had to turn to a full gallop to overcome what seemed like an insurmountable deficit.
Make that the Chargers had to turn to Trey Gallope.
The Memorial junior star poured in 29 points, including 15 in the pivotal third quarter. The Raiders led 38-17 with 6:15 to play in the third period before the Chargers scored the final 22 points of the stanza. Gallope scored 13 in the stretch as Memorial outscored Northridge 24-6 in the frame.
The athletic Chargers, who trailed 32-15 at halftime, turned up the defensive pressure to spark the comeback. Northridge committed a host of turnovers in the key third stanza and had 14 miscues in the second half as Memorial pressed fullcourt to turn the game into one with a frenzied pace.
Memorial led just 41-40 with seven minutes to play in the final period after a layup by Nick Yoder finally broke the epic scoring drought for the Raiders. The Chargers answered with a 10-3 run, keyed by seven points by Gallope, to lead 51-43. Northridge would get no closer than five points the rest of the way.
The Raiders seemed primed for a rout to open the game. Northridge led 10-0 to start as Memorial went 3:37 before finally scoring a trey by Hank Smith. The Chargers whittled the lead to 13-11 after the opening period. Northridge seized control again in the second frame by outscoring Memorial 19-4 as the Chargers managed just one field goal in the period.
Northridge took a commanding 32-15 lead into the locker room at halftime. Junior Jackson Ereksen had 10 points with a trio of treys, senior Conner Utley nine and senior Nick Yoder eight to pace the Raiders.
Gallope was unstoppable for the champions. The 6-1 forward finished 9-15 from the field and 11-15 from the free throw line in an outstanding performance.
Memorial went 21-32 from the free throw line in the victory.
Utley led the Raiders with 16 points on the night. Ereksen finished with 12 points and Yoder had 10.
Jose Soto scored nine points for Memorial.