HAMMOND | Everything that rises must converge.
Flannery O'Connor wrote this first. The famed southern author's short story came to life Monday night at the Hammond Civic Center. If someone's on top, she said, someone else is going to step on your face to replace.
Defending Class A state champion Bowman Academy, and currently No. 3 ranked, took on Class 2A No. 8 Bishop Noll in The Times 12th annual Region Roundball Rumble. It was a game so big that Valparaiso University coach Homer Drew, and son Bryce, came out to take in the drama.
The riveted fans were there to see if Noll was for real. The answer was an emphatic "yes" after the 59-58 win.
And some surely questioned whether Bowman was just a one-hit wonder. No, the Eagles are not. Bowman is just a young squad searching for its identity and a way to finish games.
"This was huge for us because we needed to play a quality opponent," Noll coach Drew Trost said. "We needed to show poise."
There was more Division I talent on the floor than in most Mid-American Conference games.
All of the big-time players on the floor played great, except for Bowman's DeJuan Marrero. The 6-foot-5 junior scored five points on 2-of-16 shooting.
"He played terrible," Bowman coach Marvin Rea said. "He was getting hacked all night and he wasn't getting a call. It was frustrating."
Then, Rea spoke about officials Mike Waisnora, John Goss and Larry Samano. It wasn't nice.
"I don't mind saying it, but certain officials have to start taking their personal feelings and stick 'em in their pocket," Rea said.
Can anyone say Triton? Yes, there were several calls that were very close. Rea was upset because he said he called a timeout before Elijah Ray took a 3-pointer. But inside of 20 seconds, up a point, why shoot a 3?
Whether the whistles are good or bad, Eagles, don't let the zebras decide a game. You have too much talent. Find a way.
Rea did not take anything away from Bishop Noll. He said, "They have a very good team and they played great." Bowman will one day. It just wasn't on this night.
With 39 second left in a one-point game, Noll's Adonis Filer and Marrero went nose-to-nose in an all-out jaw fest. With 17 seconds left Noll's Jose Rosario and Bowman's Jaylin Airrington had to be separated.
Everything that rises must converge.
"It was fun, a lot of fun," said Noll senior Adonis Filer, who scored 15 points in front of his brother, Steve, a football player at Notre Dame. "They are real physical, real hyped. You couldn't rest for a second."
Filer said the game was important because the Warriors were 0-3 in Rumble games before Bowman. But he transferred in from Mt. Carmel this year and lives in Illinois. He doesn't yet understand that people in Evansville will be talking about this score.
"This was important because we played as a team," Filer said.
Noll won the game because its guard play was better. The Eagles had no one who could check Filer or Beamon. The Warriors had no one to fully check Marrero or Ray. It was a one-point game and Marrero played his worst game since kindergarten.
Noll needed this one more because the Warriors are the new kids on the block. And it was a block party when the buzzer sounded and their fans stormed the floor.
"Between the third and fourth quarters I got on our guys pretty hard," Trost said. "And they responded which is great."
Mark this down. Both of these teams will be in Indianapolis this March. Guaranteed.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.