It turns out the third time WAS the charm as the Indy Blazers captured their first Gold Ball and the 1A National Title by knocking off the #1 seed KC Metro, a team that knocked Indy out of the Gold Ball round two seasons ago in the semis. It was the Blazers third trip to the Gold Ball Game in the past four years, but their first-ever win in the Gold Ball Championship Game!
Senior Karlee Welding and Junior Blakeley Shurig each scored 19 points, with Senior Crystal Plasters adding 18 points to the winning effort.
The Blazers advanced to the Gold Ball Showdown Series, where the other 7 National Champions squared off for the undisputed national title. The Blazers faced the #1 ranked team in the country, Oklahoma City, before falling in a close game despite 28 points from Senior Karlee Welding.
While the Gold Ball is the first in program history, it is not technically the Blazers’ first national title. In 2010, the Blazers won the 5A National Title with a loaded team that included three future Division 1 college players.
In the semifinals on Tuesday, the Blazers erupted for 33 points in the third quarter and rolled to a 74-37 win Tuesday over the PCA Paladins (Louisiana) in the Class 1A National Semis to advance to the Gold Ball 1A National Championship Game.
The Blazers had one of the most balanced scoring attacks of the season, with five players posting double figures scoring (Blakley-15/Plasters-11/Poer-10/Rhoads-10/Stieglitz-10), shooting nearly 60% from the field, and Welding adding 11 assists with her 9 points(all in the third quarter).
WELDING NAMED MARAVICH AWARD SEMIFINALIST
Blazers’ Senior Point Guard Karlee Welding was named one of 12 national semi-finalists for the Maravich Award, given annually to the nation’s top homeschool basketball player. Head coaches from across the country will vote for the finalists and the eventual award winner to be announced later this Summer.
6 BLAZERS PICK UP REGIONAL AWARDS
Congrats to these six Blazers who were named to multiple All-Midwest Region teams: All-Region 1st Team Seniors Karlee Welding and Crystal Plasters, All-Region 1st Team Junior Blakeley Shuring , All-Region 2nd Team Junior Braxton Smith , Sophomore Player of the Year Jenna Blakley, and All-Region 1st Team Freshman Katie Poer!
BLAZERS FALL JUST SHORT OF DEFENDING MIDWEST REGION TITLE
The Blazers won their first two Midwest Regional games in defense of last year’s title, with convincing victories over SWCHA (Wisconsin) and Top Ten Cincinnati. But in a rematch with last year’s runner up in the regional title game, Top 5 Nashville Central Christian, the Blazers could not overcome the taller Warriors rebounding and fell short, 69-60 in the Midwest Regional Championship Game.
Indy was led by Senior Karlee Welding, who finished with 22 points, and Junior Braxton Smith, who added 12. The Blazers fell to 25-10 on the year but will advance to play in the Nationals beginning March 13th in Springfield, Missouri.
BLAZERS GRADUATE TWO HISTORIC SENIORS
The Indy Blazers two Seniors recorded historic milestones during the Midwestern Regionals. Senior Guard Karlee Welding, already the program’s all-time assist and steals leader and #2 scorer, not only scored 22 in the regional championship game, but also passed the 2,000 career point mark. Karlee is only the second Blazer to ever eclipse the 2k mark.
In the regional semis the day before, Senior Crystal Plasters scored her 1,000th career point. She recently also passed the 500-rebound mark in the state tournament, making her the second member of the exclusive 1000 pt/500 rebound club in Blazers history.
BACK-TO-BACK STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS!
The Indy Blazers claimed their second straight Indiana Christian Basketball Association title and fourth in the last 6 years with an exciting 63-50 win over the crosstown rival Indy Wildcats for the second consecutive season.
After cruising to a 75-30 win over Bloomington in the State Semis, bolstered by the return after 9 months by Junior Braxton Smith’s 10 points and Senior Crystal Plasters’ 17, the Blazers faced the team they’ve beaten each of the past two seasons in the state title game.
The Blazers offense continued to roll in the first quarter until Junior guard Blakeley Shurig went down with a leg injury. The Blazers held onto a precarious 3-point lead after the first period. But in the second, they found their stride again, led by Plasters’ 11 second quarter points to lead by nine at halftime.
In the third, Shurig came back and played limited minutes and the Blazers held their own to enter the final period of the title game with an 8-point lead. That’s when Senior Karlee Welding took over the game, scoring 10 points in the fourth to seal the win and back-to-back state titles for the Blazers.
The entire weekend was characterized by great team play, with a balanced scoring attack that saw seven Blazers average 7 or more points per game and five players average 4+ rebounds per game.
BLAZERS TAKE ON TOP-RANKED TEAMS IN NATION
In December, the Blazers ended one of their toughest stretches of opponents in program history, falling in their final game to Romeoville High School (IL) 65-56 as part of the Nazareth Academy Holiday Tournament in Chicago. In a span of 8 days, the Blazers faced three 3A Indiana schools and two of Illinois’ top 20 teams in a brutal 7-game stretch. Despite going 2-5 in the two tournaments, the Blazers showed themselves well, competing in all but one of the games, which involved a legendary Chicago program that the Blazers played as close as the other top 20 team did in the same tournament. The Blazers entered 2017 with a 16-6 record.
The Blazers faced possibly their toughest opponent in program history, going against Chicago Marshall High School in the Nazareth Academy Holiday Tournament. The Commandos are currently the 7th-ranked team in Illinois, knocked off the previous #4 less than two weeks ago, and are coached by an Illinois legend who has won over 1,030 games and 8 state titles.
The Blazers fought valiantly and only trailed 20-8 after one period, thanks to two crucial treys by Senior Crystal Plasters. This was the closest any team has stayed to the undefeated Marshall squad through the tourney. In the second, Marshall’s Senior Guard Clark helped the Commandos pull away behind her four three’s and the Blazers trailed 37-14 going into the locker room at the half. The Blazers held their own in the third period, thanks to physical defense and 9 points by Senior Karlee Welding in the quarter. In the end, the Blazers could not overcome cold shooting (12% from 3-pt range) and Marshall was just too much as they pulled away and won 70-31 over Indy. Only three other teams this season have held Marshall to less points.
Welding led the Blazers with 13 points, 3 assists, and 3 rebounds. Plasters ended with 7 and Sophomore Emmy Stieglitz added 5 points off the bench.