Hutton: Moving up a class won’t be a problem for special Bowman program
By Mike Hutton 648-3139 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter:@MikeHuttonPT March 23, 2013 11:24PM
Bowman's Darrion Riddle screams out in joy after the Eagles defeated Linton-Stockton for the 2A Championship at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Saturday, March 23, 2013. | Jim Karczewski~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 25, 2013 7:28AM
INDIANAPOLIS — When Bowman coach Marvin Rea said that Austin Daniels, who had a piece of the state championship net sticking out of his ear during the postgame news conference, had been sent down early in the season, my first thought was: to the Developmental League.
Alas, it wasn’t true that these are young professionals. They just play like they are.
Daniels, a point guard, played a little junior varsity for the Eagles this year after some struggles. Say this about the Eagles. They play a game most teams aren’t familiar with. Poor Linton-Stockton just played basketball.
Bowman gets to move up to 3A next year because of its special status. I hereby make this declaration, without even knowing what other teams are out there, that the Eagles, with the return of Justin King and Davon Dillard, are the preseason 3A favorites to win the state title. Those two have only tapped a smidgeon of their potential and there is no way of knowing what kind of gifts will arrive at the Bowman gym in the offseason. Bowman inspires that kind of boldness and confidence, so I’m going with it now.
The Miners were a fine, fine team, with two guys, Dess Fougerousse and Austin Karazsia, who are fantastic players and great student athletes. The two combined for 54 points, 16 rebounds and six assists. They made 19 of 29 shots. They, alone, were enough to bring a state title home to the Miners in a normal, run-of-the-mill year.
Playing Bowman at Bankers Life Fieldhouse is not normal. The Bowman basketball experience is unique, intimidating and filled with uncertainty for the newbies. Listen to how Fougerousse described the Eagles’ press.
“At first they kind of just jumped you,” he said. “You felt like they weren’t beating you with their quickness. They were just getting under you, like they were suffocating you. They weren’t really doing anything but playing defense but you feel like can’t do anything. You feel like you can’ t move. It happened with me. And then, it’s like you say, ‘Well, they’re not that good and you know there are fouls and stuff.’ ”
Linton finished with 23 turnovers — 14 in the first half — and Bowman didn’t care about the 54 points that Fougerousse and Karazsia scored. Could’ve been 70. Didn’t matter. Never does. They are just relentless. Rea used nine guys legitimately and he refers to their style as 32 minutes of hell. He doesn’t watch that much film or create special game plans. He likes defense and maximum effort constantly. If he doesn’t get it, he looks down his bench and brings in someone else, who plays just like the guy he pulled.
Dillard, a sophomore, who has superstar stamped all over his forehead, was special. On his second dunk, a spectacular spread eagle throw down with the game winding down, a huge smile spread across his face. Some people from the city who have watched him say he plays like Jerome Harmon, a Lew Wallace graduate who played at Iowa.
I was going to write about Dillard early, after an impressive first half, but then King popped up late, calling for the ball in the fourth quarter after Linton had cut the lead to five.
King scored seven straight points, matching every basket that the Miners threw at them. He finished with 16 points and Dillard 24. Then it was going to be King and Dillard but then Antonio Pipkin, who was saddled on the bench with foul issues, scored 14 of his 16 in the second half. Pipkin squeezed himself into the mix.
That’s the point with the Eagles.
One Bowman player is virtually indistinguishable from another. The Eagles are cut from the same gritty cloth, fueled by the indomitable methods of Rea, who whips them into shape like they are sleek race horses and loves them like they are his own kids. There are plenty of people out there who don’t like Bowman basketball. They say they get to go the buffet and pick out the best players in Gary and that it’s just not fair. Those are the rules now everywhere, whether it’s official or not. Get over it. The Eagles have a special program.
Bowman has raised the standard of basketball excellence in Northwest Indiana and across the state by becoming the first program to win state titles in two classes.
It could’ve been some other charter school, in some other corner of the state that did it first but it was Bowman, the school on the west side of Gary that has defined itself now by the shiny, soft feeling of brand new Wilson basketball and the endless possibilities it holds for the community and for the kids.