HUNTINGTON | Ever watch coach Marvin Rea on the sideline? So calm, so confident. It's like he's waiting for a bus.
Saturday was no different.
Bowman Academy had just escaped Tipton 67-64 to win the Huntington North 2A Semistate and Rea looked so at peace.
“It hasn't soaked in yet,” Rea said. “It's never easy but we talked all year about working hard and fighting through adversity. No matter what comes toward you, they play together.”
Bowman (16-9) will meet Linton-Stockton (24-3) for the 2A state title next Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
The Eagles, who opened the season 2-7 against mostly 4A competition, shot 50 percent against Tipton (25-3) and withstood a 40-point effort by Indiana All-Star candidate Mike Crawford.
“He's an Indiana All-American,” Rea said, stretching it a bit. “We tried to contain him and make the other guys beat us. He was unconscious.”
Crawford hit 15-of-29 shots and had a game-high 15 rebounds. But he was alone on an island as no other teammate scored more than nine points.
Arthur Haggard III led Bowman with 19 points, Antonio Pipkin and Davon Dillard had 16 apiece.
The Eagles led by as many as 13 in the third quarter, 43-30, before Tipton pulled within eight. Crawford sparked the mini-comeback with 13 of his 28 points coming in that period.
Pipkin was 3-of-4 at the line late in the fourth, which could've been disastrous as Bowman missed eight of its 14 attempts.
“Bodies were flying around on both sides but you've got to play through it,” said Rea, who joined his players in crediting an early schedule that showed no mercy.
“It was my job to keep them focused,” Rea said.
“We kept our heads in it,” Dillard added. “It's a new team we have and it was hard (being 2-7) but this shows we have a strong team.”
Dillard wasn't about to apologize for Bowman's often helter-skelter style of play that would turn any coach – but Rea – gray.
“That's just the intensity we bring to the game. We leave it all out there for you,” Dillard said.
Bowman won the Class A title in 2010 and was 2A runner-up in 2012.
“It's not hard. Basically, we stay humble,” Haggard said. “Kids my age would have a hard time doing that but I go to church. I keep God first.”
Bowman closed the second quarter on a 10-0 run to lead 26-21, outrebounding the Blue Devils 16-9 and limiting them to 33 percent shooting.
With no inside game and frustrated by Bowman's quickness, Tipton relied on 6-foot-5 Crawford to do it all and he responded with 15 points but shot only 5-of-12 the opening half.
Free throws kept it close for Tipton, which was 10-for-11 from the line compared to only 1-of-2 for Bowman.