GARY | Arthur Haggard scored a whopping five points last Saturday night. Not a number that turns many heads.
The yawning, casual fan may not have even noticed Haggard.
But the Bowman Academy junior did play a major part in the Eagles' 94-78 win at Class 2A power Fort Wayne Luers.
Haggard, at the front of Bowman's full-court press, had 10 steals. Eight of those turned into layups. The 6-foot-4 junior also had six assists.
“Who needs 20 points when you're getting numbers like that?” Bowman coach Marvin Rea asked. “Arthur has bought in. The whole team is buying in. We're not going to outscore people this year. We don't have that kind of team.
“We have to defend people to win. The guys didn't get it early. They're starting to get it now.”
Bowman started the season 2-7. According to Jeff Sagarin's computer rankings, the Eagles have played a schedule that is ranked the 11th-toughest in the state.
Haggard went into the starting lineup six games ago. The Eagles have won all six games heading into tonight's game at Indianapolis Cathedral.
Haggard is averaging 13.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.4 steals.
“Arthur just wins games,” Rea said. “Sometimes he scores 20. Sometimes he scores five and gets 10 steals. He's the kind of player every coach wants.
“He does whatever it takes to win games.”
The kid nicknamed “A.J.” is being recruited by Utah State, Western Michigan and Northern Illinois. Not bad for a guard who came off the bench last year for the 2A state runners-up.
The change for this year's Eagles didn't come until after Christmas.
“We had a pretty shaky start,” Haggard said. “It took us a while to learn how to play together. Once we got past Christmas we wanted to start the new year right.”
Haggard started playing hoops at seven. He dabbled with football and baseball, too. In eighth grade he went 100 percent to the baskets.
Haggard is 20th academically out of 125 in his class. His 3.5 grade point average comes from hitting the books every night after practice.
He hopes to get into marketing after college.
“To me, as long as we get the win, that's all that matters,” Haggard said. “If my shot's not on one night, I can still help with steals and rebounds. Playing in last year's state finals helped me get mentally stronger. Dealing with the crowds and tougher competition, things like that.
“We want to get back to state. Last year everybody felt we fell off. We want to get back and prove people wrong. We want to be champs.”