GARY | It was early in the third quarter of last Saturday's Class 2A Northern Semistate game in Lafayette. For the first time in this tournament, Bowman Academy wasn't running away from its foe.
Eagles coach Marvin Rea kept talking with his assistant, Derrick Robinson. The two longtime friends and coaching buddies often think alike. One can sometimes finish the other one's sentence.
But not against Tipton at Lafayette Jefferson High School. With DeJuan Marrero on the bench in foul trouble and the Blue Devils making a charge, Rea was ready to put the DePaul-bound big man back in the game.
The risk, of course, was him picking up another quick foul and taking another seat.
"I was ready to put him back in," Rea said. "But Derrick said no."
"I kept saying, 'We're OK. We're OK,'" Robinson said. "I knew the guys would get us to the fourth quarter when we could put Rico back in."
Such a thing wouldn't have happened 15 years ago when the two started the Gary Falcons AAU program. Rea, a 1987 Roosevelt grad, was the quiet, calm teacher.
Robinson, a 1992 Roosevelt grad, was anything but that. Robinson was almost clinical.
"I was bad, I was real bad," said Robinson, who is the uncle of Bowman grad and Ball State sophomore Tyrae Robinson. "I was yelling about everything. The 2010 class was used to it. No matter how much I cussed and fussed those guys were going to play."
That group won the Class A state championship. This group will play Indianapolis Park Tudor in Saturday's Class 2A state championship game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
If things get tight against the Panthers, it will be Rea who is up screaming. When Robinson was the "bad cop" Rea was the good one. But that was several years ago.
Times have changed.
"He wants to do that new age stuff," Rea laughed. "He's all touchy-feely with the guys. He used to be a hot head. Now, it's the other way around."
Both coaches said they didn't leave their homes for days, if not weeks, last March when the Eagles were upset by Morgan Twp. in the sectional final on Bowman's home floor.
That pain, however, has driven the players and the staff to where they are right now -- 32 minutes from realizing their dream.
"The coaches have done a great job getting us ready for this," Bowman senior Mike Ford said. "We're going to follow them to the top."
Rea is happily taking the roll of the underdog against the three-time state finalist Panthers. Both Rea and Robinson will be on the sidelines doing their thing.
And pushing the Eagles to do theirs.
"We have to play our game," Rea said. "Park Tudor is the hometown favorites. They're the golden boys. Everyone expects them to win. We just have to work hard and do the things that got us here."