Greyhounds Basketball Coach, Players Reflect On Historic 4A State Championship

Photographer: Anjali Natarajan

The Carmel High School boys basketball team had already put together a historic season by the time they finished their 2018–2019 regular season schedule. The team compiled the best record in school history with only one loss, thanks to consistent performances from senior leaders and underclassmen alike. Add a state championship into the mix – the fourth in the school’s history – and you have a truly special season that head coach Ryan Osborn says resulted from contributions by every single player on the roster.

“We were confident going into the postseason, and we knew a state championship could be in sight, but we tried to stay focused on each game and each practice,” Osborn says.

On March 23 the Greyhounds defeated Ben Davis 60-55 to secure the IHSAA 4A state title, and Osborn says the win came from a balanced effort from all players including seniors John-Michael Mulloy, a Butler signee, and Luke Heady, the son of previous Greyhounds coach Scott Heady, who will go on to play at Marian University.

“It’s indescribable,” says Mulloy, who put up 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the championship game. “I’ll really miss having the Carmel name on my chest, but it was special to finish the season this way with this group of guys.”

Carmel never trailed during the championship game, and freshman Pete Suder led in scoring with 14 points as well as seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.

“Mulloy was great, and Luke has a calmness about him and keeps his composure no matter what,” Osborn says. “He was our best defender down the stretch and really held us together. Andrew Owens had some big plays. Everybody stepped up, from starters to guys off the bench being productive in limited minutes.”

Carmel overcame Fort Wayne Northrop and Zionsville at regionals, and Penn at semi-state en route to the title game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

“We focused all season on defensive stops, rebounds and holding the other teams to under 40 percent field goal shooting,” Mulloy says. “Doing the little things that aren’t on the score sheet I think made the difference this season, and we really put in a lot of hard work to earn it.”

Osborn says losing last year in the state title game 54-48 to Warren Central provided some fuel for his team’s competitive fire.

“We brought back some key returning players that were seniors this year, who had a bad taste in their mouth from losing that game last year,” he says. “More than anything I think that gave them a certain level of focus, and they were able to use the run from last year as a building block to build some confidence.”

After six seasons as an assistant, Osborn took the head coaching reins in 2017 from Heady, who currently coaches at Marian. Carmel went 131-25 during Osborn’s tenure as assistant coach, with state titles in 2012 and 2013 as well as four conference titles.

“We’ve tried to hang our hats on the defensive end, and that was the case when Scott was here,” Osborn says. “Scott and I worked well together and had the same basic philosophies of stressing defense and smart play with limited turnovers. When I had the opportunity to be the head coach there wasn’t much that I wanted to change, and the kids continue to buy into our system. That’s the most important thing — you can preach whatever you want, but if the kids don’t buy into it you’re going to have a hard time moving forward.”

After graduating from Logansport in 1999, Osborn played ball at IUPUI, subsequently taking on the role of director of basketball operations there from 2004 to 2006. After six years as an assistant coach at Avon High School, he joined the Greyhounds as assistant under Heady in 2012.

“In the last 10 games of the year we held our opponents to 35 percent shooting from the floor, and we averaged around nine turnovers a game with the goal of keeping it under 10,” Osborn adds. “Even during the regular season it was never about winning this or that game. It was important to take it a day at a time, practice included. I think that prepares you for the postseason and those big games.”

Despite losing several senior team leaders, Osborn is confident the Greyhounds will be ready to compete at a high level again next season.

“The foundation is going to remain,” he says. “Our kids coming back understand there will be a lot of work to do between now and the start of next year. They’re ready to get after it.”