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Ironmen runners-up in 4A IHSA State Championship

Homewood-Flossmoor Claim 4A State Title with sharpshooting three-point performance
Community ran into a formidable Homewood-Flossmoor team in the 4A State Title contest. The Vikings took home the program’s first State title on a strong defensive performance and sharpshooter-like accuracy from behind the arc. Photo Courtesy: Mr. Jeff Christopherson

The Ironmen, head coach Mr. Dave Witzig said, ran into the best team in the state in Homewood-Flossmoor in Saturday’s 2024 IHSA Class 4A State Championship contest at the State Farm Center.

The Vikings earned the program’s first title with a 60-48 win, sending the Ironmen home with Community’s second State runner-up trophy in the school’s over 100-year history.

The 32-6 record and second-place finish mirrors Community’s best season: 2015.

But after narrowly escaping the Sectionals with an improbable one-point victory of Quincy, Witzig said, the team was playing with “house money and spending it.”

Ultimately, the Vikings’ perimeter shooting and defensive speed would prevent the Ironmen from cashing out Illinois high school basketball’s biggest prize–a State title.

The Vikings took a 31-23 lead into the locker room, thanks to a 10-point first-half performance from 6-foot-6 junior Bryce Heard.

Heard opened up the contest shooting 4/7, sinking 2/3 shots from beyond the arc.

After a 3/12 three-point performance against New Trier the night before, Homewood-Flossmoor opened the game, shooting 4/4 from range. The Vikings finished the half with 15 points off of three-pointers.

On the other end of the court, the Vikings used their speed and agility on defense to force four turnovers in the opening half. And capitalized, tallying seven fast-break points in the contest’s opening 16 minutes of play.

HF would finish the night shooting 8/14 from the perimeter, converting at a 57.1% rate.

“Homewood Flossmoor was eight for 14 from three. We were six for 24. If you told us before the game we took 24 three-pointers,” Witzig said, he wouldn’t like the Iron’s chances.

“Our strength is inside,” the coach said. “But they did a great job of forcing us out, and they were hot. I just give them all the credit tonight.”

Jayden Tyler opened up the third with a three for HF, extending the lead to 34-23.

The Vikings would extend that lead to 16, their largest of the night, up 41-25 with 3:43 to play in the third.

Playing from behind, the Ironmen were forced to get away from their strengths and attempt more long-range shots.

“They got on fire, which made us chase,” Witzig said.

Enter Connor Smith.

The Rantoul transfer scored five in the waning minutes of the third, including a three with:06 on the clock, to help cut the Vikings’ lead to eight.

“We needed him tonight,” Witzig said, “to come out and get some more shots to keep us in the game.”

Heard would rattle off four straight to open the final quarter of play, giving the Vikings a 51-39 advantage.

Heard led the Vikings with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Jayden Tyler had 15 in the game, while Carson Brownfield added 12.

Community and HF would exchange shots as the fourth quarter slowly ticked away.

Down 10, with 5:21 to play, Braylon Roman cut the lead to eight on a fast break dunk.

With the Iron trailing 51-43, Witzig thought, “If we get one more bucket in there to get to five or six, we [have] a real shot.”

But the Iron “just couldn’t quite convert,” Witzig said.

The Iron would chip away as the the final minutes of the 2024 campaign expired, coming within seven off of a three-pointer from Noah Cleveland.

But with 1:10 on the clock and the scoreboard reading 55-48, the Viking’s lead was insurmountable.

Roman led Community in scoring with 18 points. The senior shot 7/16 on the night, going 2/5 for three while recording seven boards.

Cleveland posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Smith tallied eight points, six of which came on deep shots.

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Stories published under Inkspot Staff are unattributed to a single reporter because they: have been produced through a collaborative staff effort; individual staff member contribution is not easily distinguishable; and/or the story was disseminated from announcements or press releases.
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