Boys basketball: Bowman celebrates its 2A state championship
By Tommy Williams Post-Tribune correspondent March 24, 2013 6:40PM
Updated: April 26, 2013 6:36AM
GARY — To put in perspective what Bowman Academy’s Marvin Rea has done is his six years as boys basketball coach, two former area coaches have had basketball gyms named after them (Roosevelt’s Bo Mallard and East Chicago Washington’s John Baratto).
One other coach just recently had a gym floor named in his honor (Roosevelt’s Ron Heflin).
What do all three of these A-list coaches have in common? Not one of them won more than one state title.
Before this past weekend, a Northwest Indiana boys coach had never won more than one state title. And then came Saturday when Rea and Bowman won their second title in four years, defeating Linton Stockton 86-73 in the 2A championship.
So what will Rea get for his history making weekend? Right now, he will be more than happy to settle for a parade — not to mention an appreciation for the players who made the parade possible.
“These guys are very special to me, especially when we had a slow start to our season,” Rea said. “This says more about the hard work and dedication that our players put in.
“We didn’t have the support then that we have now, but now they understand what it means to be a Bowman ball player.”
After Sunday’s team celebration, they no doubt know now. Following Bowman’s second state title victory the day before, the Eagles were rewarded with a victory parade Sunday that began at 51st and Broadway and ended up at the school where Rea and the players were treated to a team party featuring celebration, food and a little emotion from parents who may not have seen this coming back in late December when a loss to Lawrence Central dropped Bowman’s record to 2-7.
“This has been a blessing from God. My son and I will cherish this for the rest of our lives,” said Tarona Graddick, the mother of Bowman guard TaShaun Lenear, who admitted having to hold back tears just talking about the results of the season. “It’s been a ball having these kids in our lives and seeing them develop into the great team they turned out to be. It’s been a great experience.”
The same can be said for guard Antonio Pipkin, who’s end to his Bowman career is the stuff seniors dream of: With Linton Stockton making a run to cut the Eagle’s double-digit lead to five, Pipkin scored 12 points in the last 3:28 to seal the win.
“I’m proud of my teammates, I’m proud of my coaches. The work we put in has finally paid off,” Pipkin said. “I just put my faith in God to show me how to lead this team. A lot of people in the world don’t get a chance to do this, so you have the cherish the moment.”
That’s a message Rea hasn’t quite mastered yet. Don’t get him wrong, he does appreciate Sunday’s festivities and, of course, the day before was a history making day for him and his team. But remember, he is a coach through and through.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet that we’re state champions,” Rea said. “Actually I’m looking ahead to next year.”