INDIANAPOLIS | Too many Eagles. Not enough Miners.
Austin Karazsia and Dess Fougerousse did everything in their power to carry Linton-Stockton to the Class 2A state title Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, but the Miners duo was simply outnumbered by Bowman Academy.
Employing the seemingly bottomless bench that enables it to execute coach Marvin Rea's 32 minutes of hell, the Eagles were too much for the Miners' prolific one-two punch in an 86-73 victory.
"Our game plan coming in was to make it a track meet, to get up and down the court," Rea said. "(It)'s enough to frustrate anyone. If teams can get through it, hats off to them. We're only as good as the 12th man we put on the court. It's what we take pride in."
Bowman (18-9) led wire to wire, frazzling Linton-Stockton early with its patented pressure in building a 13-point halftime lead despite foul trouble for Justin King and Antonio Pipkin.
The margin reached 17 in the third quarter, but just when a blowout seemed imminent, the Eagles had to withstand the dual heroics of Karazsia (29 points) and Fougerousse (25 points), who rallied L-S within five with 3:26 left.
"It's something that's hard to practice against," Linton-Stockton coach Joey Hart said of the pressure. "You've got to see it live and as we did, we got better as the game went on. We wanted to be in a four-minute game and we were."
The Bowman front line of Justin King, Davon Dillard and Antonio Pipkin countered to pull the Eagles through. King scored seven straight points, including a 3, and Dillard followed with an and-one. One more L-S push made it 70-65, but Pipkin, limited to 11 minutes by foul trouble, took over down the stretch, scoring 12 of the Eagles' last 16 points to secure the title.
"It was time to ride (King)," Rea said. "We wanted to put the ball in his hands. We rode the pony until he was done and then we rode Antonio. 'Tony' did what we expect him to do, to carry us down the stretch. Davon just does what Davon does. He can be as good as he wants to be. He's really matured a lot from Day One to now. They have this thing about proving me wrong."
Nine Eagles scored, four of them -- Dillard (24), Pipkin (16), King (16) and Arthur Haggard (15) -- in double figures. Bowman's bench outscored Linton-Stockton's 13-2.
"They made some unbelievable shots on the perimeter, shots we hadn't seen them make on film," Hart said. "They were relentless on the glass. It took a very good team to beat us and we got beat by a very good team."
The state title is Bowman's second, the other coming in Class A in 2010.
"It's really sweet, really special," Rea said. "A lot of people thought we wouldn't be here. It was a trying season. It was a group of new guys. We doubted ourselves early in the season. We battled. They tested me and I tested them. There were tough times, but we're here. We made it back."