FORT WAYNE 95, INDIANAPOLIS 92: (Danville, Ill.) - In a battle between the two top teams in the league, featuring the top-seeded Indianapolis Blaze and the second-seed and defending league champions, Fort Wayne Flite, it was fitting that the contest literally went down to the final minute.
The first quarter was a back-and-forth affair with Indianapolis taking a 23-22 lead, only to have Fort Wayne erupt to a double-digit advantage midway through the second quarter behind Greg Foster's 17 points in the first half.
Although the Fort Wayne lead at intermission was only four points, the momentum was clearly in their favor as they looked physically and mentally more dominant than their Indiana counterparts.
After a third quarter that featured Fort Wayne extending their lead to five point, the final period was one for their memories.
With approximately four minutes remaining in the game, Fort Wayne's Corey Wickware hit a corner three-pointer to extend Fort Wayne's lead to nine points, 79-70, and it appeared the defending champions were going to cruise to victory.
But former Butler University product, Chrishawn Hopkins, willed his Indianapolis team back into the game, 23 points in the second half, including 17 points in the fourth quarter, helping Indianapolis go on a 10-0 run to take the lead at 80-79 in less than two minutes.
With Indianapolis surging high, and Fort Wayne reeling, the longtime Fort Wayne original trip of Antonio Cannon, Wadner Joseph, and Antonio Wilson, who combined for 17 points in the final frame, scored critical baskets to help wrestle back the lead for good.
Indianapolis, trailing by three points, 93-90, with seven seconds remaining failed to tie the game with a wide-open three-point attempt, and then on the ensuing possession, down 95-92, missed another three-point shot at the buzzer, allowing Fort Wayne to win a second consecutive championship title.
Fort Wayne was led by five players in double digits including Greg Foster with 23 points, Mikel Brigham with 16 points, and Corey Wickware with 15 points.
Indianapolis was also led by five players in double-digits including Chrishawn Hopkins with a game-high 25 points, William McClure with 13 points, and Jeremy Gibson with 12 points.
As Fort Wayne celebrates with their second championship title in a row, with three consecutive years of playing in the title game, it also provides a good opportunity for Indianapolis to build upon their first regular season title and first finals appearance, as they will look to unseat Fort Wayne in 2018 as league champions.