Hutton: Playing ‘hot’ wins third semistate title for Bowman
By Mike Hutton 648-3139 or firstname.lastname@example.org March 16, 2013 8:42PM
Bowman Academy players Antonio Pipkin, left and Justin King celebrate after an IHSAA boys 2-A semi-state victory 67-64 over Tipton Saturday March 16, 2013 in Huntington, Ind. |Joe Raymond ~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 18, 2013 7:18AM
HUNTINGTON — It’s like a pick-up game for Bowman.
Organized, frantic chaos with the Eagles head coach, the unofficial ringleader of the bunch, dressed up in a preppy, gray, school-boy Cardigan.
Except these Eagles don’t play like school boys.
They play like they’re outside on a hot summer day, banging hard on the concrete, flying hard after the ball from every angle possible, from every point on the floor. They operate at all times under the love of the game clause. It’s refreshing to watch.
Let me interrupt the plot here to say this about Bowman, though: The Eagles are difficult to write about. It’s hard to find my groove with this Bowman team, with any Bowman team really, because the players all are cut from the same cloth. They go 12 deep, they don’t overthink the game and they are relentless. They aren’t particularly self aware or overly analytical. They just play.
It’s difficult to distinguish one good Bowman team from another. I was there when Elijah Ray and DeJuan Marrero and Christopher Bond and Tyrae Robinson won in 2010. They were very good.
This team is very good, too, with Justin King and Antonio Pipkins and Davon Dillard, and they are coached the same way. Marvin Rea is not a worrier. He lets his guys play and then he lets the chips fall wherever they fall. It usually works out well with the Eagles. The program’s well, as far as I know, has never once been dry.
For the second time in two years, Bowman stood strong in the face of a 40-point performance from Mike Crawford. Crawford is tough and Tipton is scrappy, but the whole Bowman team is tough and the Eagles collectively are nearly impossible to break over the course of a game.
There was a late run by Tipton after the Eagles built a 13-point lead, but a desperation 3-pointer by Crawford was short because King got in his face enough to alter the shot.
With a legion of fans around the Huntington North gym floor, some of them little kids wearing Bowman t-shirts, I asked Rea if this team was better than the 2010 team, assuming it wins the state title next week. Dillard is being recruited by all the big schools, King will play Division I basketball somewhere and Antonio Pipkins, the Eagles’ unflappable, cool-under-pressure guard, plays wide receiver for the Eagles. He’s the kind of athlete any coach wants on his team.
“I think so,” Rea said. “That team had been together for a long time. There have been critics wondering how good the program is.”
Those answers lie on the floor, with the players and in the record books now.
The program is fine. There are so many good players in Gary now, and so many of them that want to be Eagles when they grow up, that it will always be a matter of managing and molding the talent. That will be Rea’s job until he has had enough.
Bowman has won semistates three of the last four seasons, and the Eagles still seem to be fueled by the doubters. The people that didn’t believe they’d beat Fort Wayne Luers (me), the people that they believe don’t really want them to be successful, and just people in general who have a hard time dealing with the Eagles’ mystique and their seemingly endless well of good players.
Rea dismisses the interlopers and arm chair skeptics, saying he tells his guys only to worry about what happens in their inner circle, to play hard, to be unselfish and forget about the noise. Yet he (perhaps jokingly) reminded me about how I picked Luers to win the regional — so did about five other people. I had forgotten. That’s how much picking the winner means to me.
So, here is my point about Bowman basketball: The Eagles don’t need to be energized by the naysayers and the haters anymore. They really are good enough on their own to stand above the whispering about their program and the doubters.
They are a rugged basketball team — so good that I thought they had at least a half dozen calls not go their way and it was totally insignificant to them and their game. They just are consumed with playing hard every minute they are on the floor and winning state titles, nothing less.
How many programs can legitimately say that? Only one, as far as I know. It will get harder for the Eagles, who now have to play in 3A next year because they are just too good, according to the IHSAA, which bumped them up because of the success factor.
I know how Bowman rolls. They’re happy to be singled out and look forward to proving again, after they win a state title in 2A next week (after winning that 1A title in 2010), that they can do it in 3A, too.