DANVILLE — My, how the times have changed.
For more than three-fourths of a century — 77 years to be exact — the schools that make up the Bismarck-Henning school district went without a Vermilion County championship in boys' basketball.
On Saturday — 20 years after B-H made its first breakthrough — the top-seeded Blue Devils captured their third title in six years (and fourth overall), 64-50 over Georgetown-Ridge Farm at a near-capacity Palmer Arena.
Seniors Krystian Ingram, Stephen Krout and Tanner Ribbe aren't aware of the frustrations of the first 77 years of the tournament, just that B-H has matched Salt Fork for the most success during the past six years.
"This is how it was in junior high, we won in seventh and eighth grade, both times over Georgetown," Ribbe said. "It's good to get this one in high school."
Krout said there's no comparison in his collection of county titles.
"They're not at all the same," he said. "This is a larger stage and means more."
The three senior starters became part of the B-H varsity as freshmen in Deon Mennenga's first year as head coach. The coach delivered a simple pre-game message to the trio.
"I told the seniors they've been here four years, worked hard and it would be a shame to put in all that time and not get it this year," Mennenga said.
The Blue Devils (18-2) scored the first six points and only trailed once (26-25) en route to the convincing victory over an opponent they had also beaten in December.
"We controlled tempo and made them take quick shots," said Krout, who led B-H with three three-pointers and 11 rebounds.
B-H used its defense to take control after Korie Vire's three-pointer lifted the Buffaloes into a 26-25 edge with 2:09 left in the first half.
The Blue Devils opened up a 31-26 lead at intermission. Their final three basket came on steals, the first two by Ingram.
"Defensively, we were able to lock people down when we needed to," Mennenga said.
The top-seeded Blue Devils showed their offensive balance in zipping into an 11-4 first-quarter lead. The first five baskets were by five different players. By the time the title game was 11 minutes old, all seven athletes who would play during the night had scored.
"We don't have one go-to player," Krout said. "If teams key on one person, someone else is open and can score."
G-RF (17-2), which fell behind by 18 points in the third quarter, used a 9-0 fourth-period run to pull within 56-48 on a breakaway by Matthew Hay with 1:56 to go.
From there, B-H connected on 8 of 9 free throws to build the margin back to 14 points. Ribbe was 6-for-6 from the line during the last 54 seconds. He scored 20.
"I just wanted to hit the shots and seal the victory," he said. "I've wanted this one for a while."
Vire led the Buffaloes with 18 points. Hay and Andy Cravens each scored 10, including four apiece in the fourth quarter. Cravens hauled down a team-high nine boards.
"We're still a work in progress," Mennenga said, "but we're closer."
Offensively, the Blue Devils hit at least half of their shots in every quarter and made 64.9 percent overall (24 of 37). G-RF hit 42.3 percent of its attempts (22 of 52)."
"The main thing," Ribbe said, "was to contest their shot. Vire is one of the best shooters in the county. We tried to hold them down."
Armstrong-Potomac 46, Oakwood 43. The Trojans shut down Oakwood's inside attack in the second half to rally. The Comets' Cameron Lee and Skyler Slade teamed up for 17 points before the break as their team led, 25-22. They were held to five points the final half.
"We had to help and double-team and it paid off," A-P coach Brian Russell said.
D.J. Davis led the Trojans (7-11) with 11 points and nine rebounds. His biggest came with 2:33 remaining when he was the only player not to stand flat-footed after a teammate's missed free throw, and he scored uncontested, giving A-P a 44-39 lead.
"One thing we talk about is attention to detail. We were able to scrap and get it done," Russell said.
Wade Rogers scored 10 points and Luke Gernand grabbed eight rebounds for A-P, which plays host to the Comets on Tuesday.
Lee led Oakwood (9-10) with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Slade had nine points and eight rebounds.
Salt Fork 28, Westville 24. Point guard David Sacre was the catalyst for a Salt Fork team which didn't commit a turnover the first 26:45 and had just four overall.
"He's looking to do what it takes to make the team successful," Salt Fork coach Aaron Hird said. "We talked all week about taking care of the ball. If you don't against Westville, you feel like you're playing defense all night."
Sacre also scored a game-high 10 points. Teammate Max Stutsman had a game-high seven rebounds for the Storm (13-7).
"David took care of the ball and distributed it to where it needed to go," Hird said, "and he is becoming more assertive offensively."
Kyle Brazas and Robert Elliott each scored nine points for Westville (11-9), which endured a 12:27 scoreless spell after taking an 11-10 second-period lead.
Oakwood's squad was judged the best on Saturday, followed by Bismarck-Henning, Armstrong-Potomac and Salt Fork.