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Supporters rally for Bowman despite loss

Gary Police   Fire along with Lake County Sheriffs escort Bowman Eagles their way back school from Indianapolic Gary

Gary Police & Fire along with Lake County Sheriffs escort the Bowman Eagles on their way back to school from Indianapolic in Gary, IN on March 30, 2014. | Jim Karczewski\For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 1, 2014 6:47AM



GARY — Thea Bowman Leadership Academy’s drive for a third state boys basketball title in five years fell short Saturday, but its supporters still rallied at the school on Sunday afternoon to support the Class 3A runner-ups.

“I want to introduce the runner-up champs,” said Bowman’s announcer Ernest Bolden. “I call them champs because they are champs.”

Bowman lost 89-76 to Greensburg in the Class 3A title game on Saturday. As a result, it didn’t become the first team to win titles in three different classes. Bowman won the Class A title in 2010 and the Class 2A title in 2013, which they mark with photos of all of the players and coaches on the walls of their gymnasium.

Fans were appreciative of the team’s effort, breaking into cheers when a police-escorted convoy appeared on 5th Avenue.

After their arrival, the team and its fans were treated to rally and barbeque in the school’s gym. Players lined up with their red runner-up medals alongside coach Marvin Rea.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, decked out a “got rings?” T-shirt lauded the team for being more than just an excellent basketball team.

“You’ve gone throughout the country representing the city of Gary well,” Freeman-Wilson said. “I know that you may be disappointed, but there is nothing to be disappointed about. Keep doing what you’re doing. We are looking forward to hearing great things from each and every one of you.”

Bowman principal Ruby James remembers the day in 2005 when Rea started talking about the school having a basketball team.

“We were open only as a K-6 school, and we hadn’t talked about anything past 8th grade at that point,” James said. “But there was something about that face that told me I needed to go ahead and trust this man, even though I didn’t know a thing about him. Thank you guys for putting Thea Bowman on the map.”

Rea thanked Bowman parents for trusting him.

“They’re all my sons as well,” Rea said. “We were upset after the loss, but we’ve gotten to the final four out of the past five years. It’s very special for me and these players are doing it for the entire city.”

Bolden said there are several seniors graduating from this year’s team, but there are a lot of young kids gearing up for a chance as well.

“They’re only going to get better,” he said



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