HAMMOND | So how do you beat the champion? Short jabs? Quick stomach blows followed by a rope-a-dope hoping to win the bout on points?
Nope, you have knock out the champ. It's been that way for a century.
Four-time consecutive Class 3A sectional champion Lew Wallace looked Bowman Academy straight in the eye on Saturday night and the Hornets did not blink.
El Dub gave the 2A state champs and No. 2 3A Eagles everything it had. For a half, anyway. But the 16 minutes of in-your-face basketball was impressive.
Interim coach Brandon Scott had his team ready.
Aarion Green had 16 points in the first quarter, 21 at half as the Hornets held a lead. Green finished with 32. Keontae Bridges scored 25.
“We came out to play,” Green said after his team lost 117-78 to Bowman.
“We not scared of anybody,” Bridges said.
It's been a tough year in Glen Park. Coach Melvin Yancey has been off the bench and out since early December with a health issue.
Green did not become eligible until February. Bridges had appendicitis and was out for five weeks. Two starters were ruled ineligible right before postseason.
But the Hornets had Bowman coach Marvin Rea talking, especially at halftime when he team trailed 44-42 at the Hammond Civic Center.
“I told my guys they better wake up or we're going to have another Morgan Township night,” Rea said of his team's upset by the Cherokees in the 2011 Class A sectional final.
“Wallace played great,” Rea continued. “I told (Scott) he should be proud. They fought for you today. They have no reason to hang their heads.”
The Hornets handled the press in the first half. Bowman turned it up a notch and scored 40 points in the third quarter. The Eagles had 28 steals and forced 36 turnovers, most in the second half.
“I'm very proud of my guys,” Scott said. “They did not back down. They played with everything they had.”
That is something Bowman can learn from as it embarks on its annual trip to Indianapolis. But first, a chip needs to be implanted on its shoulders.
“Nobody gave us a chance,” Green said. “We wanted to prove everyone wrong.”
“Everybody was picking them, we wanted to win this sectional,” Bridges added.
These two young men are very talented. They just got beat by a deeper, better team.
Keep your heads up, gentlemen.
People will be talking about what you did for years to come, no matter what the scoreboard said.
Eagles, better wake up. A lot of people don't think you can win in 3A. They'll be ready to take jabs at you.
You're the champ, but a knockout is within your grasp.