GARY | For a while it looked like a game, the kind of high school basketball game that have fans scraping for a rare ticket.
Then, after halftime, Justin King decided to take it over.
Down 37-33 at the break, the 6-foot-7 Bowman Academy center went to the free-throw line 10 times in the third quarter and finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds.
Times No. 1 Bowman beat No. 7 E.C. Central 86-71.
“When he said that, I knew I was going to ride that pony,” Bowman coach Marvin Rea said.
“It was senior night,” King added. "That's what seniors do. I had to lead. I had to step up for my team; we were struggling.”
Earlier, the cars were lined up and down Fifth Avenue an hour before the game. Scalpers were outside of Bowman Academy getting good money for tickets.
Inside the packed gymnasium, Rea was yelling to the door guards, “Not another soul in the building. It's sold out.”
Fifteen college coaches were in the gym, including Purdue's Matt Painter, Ball State, DePaul and Creighton.
“That made me want to play even harder,” said King, who is yet uncommitted.
It was Indiana high school basketball with an AAU flavor.
E.C. (11-8) held a six point lead early in the third quarter. Then, a bench technical. Later, a technical on sophomore Damian Jefferson for hanging on the rim after a dunk.
King hit seven free throws in the third.
“Our guys battled him,” E.C. coach Abe Brown said. “But (King) picked it up a notch in the second half. He did what a senior's supposed to do, a four-year starter.
“They struggled in the first half, and we struggled in the second half. That was about it.”
Former Bowman player Jalen Blackmon led the Cards with 22. Hyron Edwards added 18.
Davon Dillard scored 19 points for the Eagles (16-3), who set the school record for wins, heading into the postseason.
“This is a great game right before sectionals,” Rea said. “They've got good players, we've got good players. It's a great game for both teams to get us ready for the sectionals.
Bowman has now won six straight over E.C. Central.