UNION TOWNSHIP | No surprises here.
In a pair of lopsided semifinals, Bishop Noll and defending sectional champion Bowman Academy cruised into tonight’s 7 p.m. championship of the Class 2A Wheeler Sectional.
“The Bishop Noll and Bowman game has become a big thing for the region,” Bowman coach Marvin Rea said. “I have a lot of respect for Coach (Drew) Trost and what he does there. It’s a game we’ve all been waiting for.”
The all-time series is 1-1. Noll (19-4) won a 2011 regular-season matchup, but the Eagles (13-9), in their first foray into Class 2A, won 77-58 in last year’s sectional final.
After beating Lake Station 87-52 in Friday’s first semifinal, with 29 points from his bench, Rea said the key is not getting a false sense of security after a huge win.
“You can’t watch the scoreboard,” Rea said. “No matter the score you still have to focus at all times because you never know what tomorrow will bring.”
Rea used 11 players in the first quarter, where Lake Station (9-12) held a 2-0 lead 3:33 into the game. Bowman led 20-4 at the end of the first, with 13 first-quarter steals, and continued to turn its pressure into points with 24 steals for the game and at least a 20-point margin throughout the final 22 minutes.
“We had to keep up the defense off the bench to keep the lead up with the starters out,” said Bowman reserve Austin Daniels, who led the reserves with seven points.
Justin King led Bowman with 20 points and two blocks. Arthur Haggard scored 13, and Davon Dillard added 11.
In the nightcap Noll allowed seven 3-pointers to the Oilers (2-19) but very little else. To compensate, Noll forward Tyreon Gates, who’s been honing his skills in before-school shoot-around sessions, nailed four treys in the second half en route to a team-best 13 points.
Forty-three of Noll’s points came from its bench as Gates and Larry Crisler spent substantial time resting.
Noll improved its second-half pressure and tempo to gain a 44-31 second-half scoring advantage after a 29-16 first half.
With kids from Gary on Noll’s squad, the key will be making sure to avoid over-excitement, Trost said.
“It’s all about boxing out, handling their pressure and making free throws,” Trost said. “It’s going to be a battle for sure. The guys are excited.”