HUTTON: Bowman laying low for state title
By MIKE HUTTON firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @MikeHuttonPT March 24, 2014 6:20PM
Bowman Academy players celebrate their 85-71 victory over Fort Wayne Dwenger in the IHSAA Boys Basketball Semi-State Saturday, March 22, 2014 at Huntington North High School in Huntington, Ind. Photo by Joe Raymond ~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 26, 2014 6:20AM
INDIANAPOLIS — Bowman has heard it all.
The renegade team from Gary? It is out there. So what. Deal with the Eagles.
Marvin Rea has been able to collect kids from all over the city because they are starved to play basketball for a great program.
The program recruits itself now. With a public school system that is falling apart day-by-day, Bowman represents hope.
Faced with a $9 million deficit, it’s likely that Lew Wallace will shut down next year, leaving West Side as the only high school in the Gary Community Public School system left. Athletics in Gary has always been defined by basketball.
Bowman is the new face of it.
That is a long way from the glory days of basketball in Gary, when eight schools wrestled each other every year for bragging rights, the conference title and a sectional championship.
Love or loathe them, Bowman has recalibrated basketball in Gary.
Basketball factory? That has followed them around since they started playing.
The standard for urban basketball? Yes. Been beaten to death.
Style of play? Out of control or controlled chaos. I’ve heard both. Personally, I’ll take 84-feet of madness over the Princeton offense any time.
The fact that Marvin Rea was able to slip out of the state final media day before any other coach at Bankers Life Fieldhouse doesn’t necessarily mean its success has become elevator music.
They are on the verge of doing something historic: Winning state titles in three different classes.
They already did something historic last year when they won a title in 2A, making them the first school to win in two classes.
And yet nobody seems to care too much, at least right now. It’s strangely quiet.
This is the best Bowman team Rea has had.
He has three Division I players — Davon Dillard, Justin King and Arthur Haggard.
The Eagles beat Lake Central and Indianapolis Tech, the two teams that are going to play for the Class 4A title right behind them on Saturday.
Bowman is playing in its third state finals game in four years.
They really are a team and a program that is mature beyond its six years of Indiana High School Athletic Association existence.
They travel all over the Midwest to play games, partially to compete against the best but also because they have trouble scheduling local teams. The local scheduling part has improved lately but it’s still an issue.
The kids are energized and toughened by their heavy-duty practices and the breath taking pace of their games.
Bowman has learned to tune out the noise and focus on a familiar theme. Family.
“We always talk about being a family and staying together and just listening to the guys in the locker room,” Rea said. “We need to stay focused. We aren’t outlaws. We just like to keep to ourselves.”
There is one difference this time about the game. Greensburg, Bowman’s opponent, is a slight favorite.
The Pirates have three Division I basketball players and two other starters who will play tennis and baseball in college.
They won the state title last year. They have lost two games in two seasons. The Pirates have the kind of point guard, Bryant McIntosh, a Northwestern recruit, who can absolutely run Bowman’s press. See what Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell did two years ago in the state championship game for Park Tudor against the Eagles for an example.
Both Rea and Greensburg coach Stacy Meyer can argue over which team is really the favorite (Meyer isn’t buying it because he believes the Eagles have played a tougher schedule). None of it matters. A Greensburg victory means they are the only 3A school other than Washington to win back-to-back titles.
Both teams have been here before. Talk is cheap. They know the real squawking starts at tip-off when they both have a chance to make history.