HAMMOND | Bowman Academy has speed, athleticism and quickness that can't be duplicated.
Just ask Gary Hayes.
The Griffith coach thought his team was prepared to play the Eagles in Friday's sectional semifinals.
Then the Panthers turned the ball over 26 times in the first half and went 6 of 14 from the free-throw line.
Bowman, who used 12 players with 11 of them scoring, will face Lew Wallace for the Class 3A Clark Sectional title at 7 p.m. today at the Hammond Civic Center. The Eagles beat Griffith 80-44 and Wallace topped Gavit 66-58.
"We wanted to disrupt their offense, apply pressure and that's what we worked on," Bowman coach Marvin Rea said. "I think our guys have bought into it in practice and they love it; they love creating offense off the defense."
"You just can't simulate that kind of quickness in practice," Hayes added. "We played East Chicago and beat them this season. They were quick, but not as tenacious, and if you can't simulate it in practice, you can be only so prepared for it."
While some of the early turnovers can be attributed to 17 first-half Eagles steals, others were miscommunication throws that went in-and-out of a receivers hands or passed him all together.
"The last thing we needed was what we had, to come out and play bad at the start," Hayes said.
The Eagles picked up 17 points from Anthony Cole off the bench and another 16 from Davon Dillard, who had a team-best eight rebounds.
"Our guys start based upon the way they practice," Rea said. "We have some guys like Cole that don't start and bring a better spark off of the bench."
Tremell Murphy led all scorers with 18 points and scored the first 10 of the Panthers' points.
Lew Wallace, the four-time defending champ of the sectional, rallied from a push by Gavit in the second quarter.
After falling behind 19-16 after the first quarter, Wallace used its speed to counter Gavit's outside shooting.
Keontae Bridges and Aairon Green each notched double-doubles as Bridges scored 20 points with 12 rebounds and Green had 16 points with 10 rebounds.
"We try to play at a fast pace as much as we can," Hornets coach Brandon Scott said. "That's our strength. We don't have a lot of size, and in our conference, there are a lot of big players, guys who are (6-foot-6), 6-7, and our biggest guy is 6-4 and he's just a sophomore. For us to play well in our conference, we have to be fast."
Eric Sims had 21 for Gavit, which pulled as close as three points in the third quarter. The Gladiators (6-16) then went 4 minutes, 42 seconds in the fourth quarter without a field goal.