Photos by Caitlyn Brady // Carmel's Cole Jenkins probes the baseline while three Fishers defenders prowl nearby. Jenkins finished with seven points to help the Greyhounds claim their fourth straight sectional title.
Photos by Caitlyn Brady // Carmel's Cole Jenkins probes the baseline while three Fishers defenders prowl nearby. Jenkins finished with seven points to help the Greyhounds claim their fourth straight sectional title.
One of the toughest tasks in a basketball game, much less a sectional championship, is playing from behind.

Fishers barely trailed in its Class 4A Sectional 8 semifinal against Anderson on Friday, but Saturday’s final verses Carmel was another story.

The Greyhounds led from start to finish, holding off a late Tigers’ push, to earn their fourth consecutive sectional championship with a 56 to 49 win.

“I thought our guys did a great job of keeping their composure, because earlier in the season we didn’t do a very good job of that,” said Carmel head coach Ryan Osborn. “This team’s learned — they’re together — they’re figuring out how to finish games … They really stuck together.”

It looked as if Carmel (18-7) might blow the game open early in the fourth quarter, extending its lead to 12 behind a raucous crowd at the Mill at Noblesville. But Fishers (12-12) wasn’t about to let its season end without a fight.

Senior Jeremy Szilagyi converted an old-fashioned 3-point play, followed by a 3-ball by junior Terry Hicks to help cut the margin to 52-49 with about a minute left on the clock.

A dunk and a pair of free throws from Carmel senior Eddie Gill, however, ended Fishers’ comeback bid and sealed the championship for the Greyhounds.

Fishers head coach Matt Moore appreciated his team’s perseverance down the stretch and not rolling over when the going got tough.

“I was just proud of them to make a late run like that,” Moore said. "They could’ve folded and … we gave ourselves a chance.”

John Michael Mulloy finished with a game-high 26 points for Carmel on 10-of-11 shooting. The Greyhounds dominated inside the arc, connecting on 17-of-23, but struggled from downtown. Junior Andrew Owens was the only Greyhound to make a 3-pointer, hitting two of his five attempts.

Both sides came out of the gate slowly — the first points on the scoreboard came after almost three minutes of play on a bucket from Mulloy. The Butler-bound junior scored Carmel’s first seven points, and the Greyhounds led 15-8 after a quarter.

Fishers closed the gap to one in the second thanks to a 3-pointer from Hicks, a Josiah Matthews field goal and a free throw by Jack Maller. The Tigers couldn’t contain Mulloy, who scored another six points in the quarter.

A steal and basket by senior guard Cole Jenkins extended Carmel’s lead to 21-14 with four minutes in the quarter, but Fishers ended the first half strong with a Matthews basket to close the deficit 25-20 heading into the locker room.

Mulloy continued to dominate in the second half, adding 11 to his total, and providing the only Carmel offense until Jenkins knocked down a floater at the buzzer. Szilagyi kept Fishers within striking distance, scoring eight points in the quarter with a 3-ball, a trio of three free throws and a bucket.

Szilagyi finished with a team-high 14 points on 4-of-8 from the floor, which included a pair of 3’s. The senior also made all four of his free throws.

A Hicks slam dunk with 2:48 left in the third quarter cut Carmel’s lead to 34-30 and forced Osborn to call a timeout.

“I think, at that point, the leadership on the floor had to take over,” Osborn said. “I thought the guys that were on the floor did a good job of corralling each other during free throws and huddling … talking to each other about what we needed to do defensively to keep our composure.”

Carmel ended the third with a 38-30 edge and extended its advantage to double-digits before a Szilagyi 3-pointer and a free throw by his brother, Alex, momentarily stemmed the tide.

The Tigers managed to make creep within three, 52-49, with 33 seconds on the clock, but Gill’s slam put an exclamation point on the Greyhounds’ fourth straight sectional title — the longest streak for Carmel since winning five in a row from 1976-1980.

Mulloy was the only Greyhound who finished in double-figures, but Gill, Jenkins and Jalen Whack each chipped in seven. Andrew Owens had six and Luke Heady had three.

Hicks joined Szilagyi as the only other Tiger in double-digits with 13. Matthews had eights and Craig Yoho finished with six.

Both sides pulled down 23 rebounds. Hicks led Fishers with nine, while Mulloy and Gill had six board each.

Carmel faces Sectional 6 champion Homestead in the Logansport regional on Saturday at noon. If the Greyhounds win, they’ll face the survivor of the Zionsville-Fort Wayne North Side matchup in the regional championship at 8 p.m.

Carmel and Homestead didn't meet during the regular season.