HUNTINGTON | There has been some bleacher chatter this winter about the future of Carson Cunningham as Andrean's head coach.
With nine seniors on the roster, a full-time job as a professor at DePaul and four young kids at home, some have speculated this could be it for Cunningham on Broadway.
He also plans on writing a book about the Cubs winning the World Series this year.
But after a painful 68-63 overtime loss to Fort Wayne Concordia in the Class 3A Huntington North Semistate at Huntington North, the question needed to be asked.
“I plan on being back,” Cunningham said. “But we're going to talk about it.”
With that he walked into the gym area holding his daughter.
Win killer: The Cadets scored 31 points off of Andrean turnovers, almost half of their total points. It's amazing Andrean was even in this game.
“There's no doubt we didn't hold onto the ball,” Cunningham said.
Home court: Concordia was 19 of 27 from the line and Andrean was 12 of 20. The gym was three-quarters full of Cadets fans. Concordia's drive was only about 25 minutes. For Andrean fans it was three hours.
“It felt like a road game,” Cunningham said.
Senior-itis: Bowman was 6 of 14 from the foul line in a very sketchy fourth quarter. Just a couple of those dropping would've made for an easier end to the Eagles' 67-64 Class 2A semistate win over Tipton.
Eagles coach Marvin Rea called a timeout and told his team one thing. Only Antonio Pipkin or Justin King will be handling the ball as the Blue Devils were fouling.
“I told them to not even throw it to anyone else,” Rea said.
Austin Daniels was 0 for 4 in the final eight minutes.
“I'm going to have to be serious at practice this week, working on my free throws, so I can hit them at state,” Daniels said.
Pipkin was 3 for 4 from the line in the fourth and finished with 16 points. He hit both free throws with 45.3 second left and his Eagles holding only a one-point lead.
“This means a lot,” said Pipkin, who finished with 16 points. “To the city of Gary, our school and all of our fans. To get back to state and continue our legacy, this is huge. I have to credit DeJuan (Marrero) and Elijah (Ray), guys before me, who helped me in situations like this.
“They taught me to focus. To block everything out. And to hit the free throws.”
Graduation party: Rea just might go to Mike Crawford's graduation party and bring some cake. The Tipton senior, for the second year in a row, scored 40 points against his Eagles.
Crawford, who will play at Saint Louis next year, was 15-of-29 from the field, 10-of-11 from the line and also had 15 rebounds.
“He lit us up,” Rea said. “He's a great player and a great kid.”
Moving on up: With the win, Bowman will be moved up to Class 3A next year and Tipton will remain in 2A. The Blue Devils were the lowest 3A enrollment school in the IHSAA's new classifications that were released last week. But with Bowman getting six tournament success factor points over the last two postseasons the Eagles will be 3A in next year's tournament.
“Tipton's staying 2A, right?” Rea said. “As long as we don't have to play (Crawford) again he doesn't have to graduate. The kid's tough.”
Doing it again: Rea was overwhelmed talking about his team. In 2010 the Eagles won the Class A state title. In 2012 they advanced to the 2A game, losing to Park Tudor. That Eagles team lost three D-I players to graduation – Marrero (DePaul), Ray (IUPUI) and Steve Hawkins (Robert Morris).
Few thought they could do it again.
“For me, this is one of the sweetest state championship appearances,” Rea said. “Yes, I thought we'd get back even though no one else did. We have a lot of critics. But they don't know how hard we work, how hard I work. We're in the gym and the goal is always to get to state.”
“I thought we'd be back,” he said. “I never doubted it.”
Big steal: Bowman held a 60-56 lead with 3:20 remaining when Crawford got a rebound. Daniels ran baseline and picked him from behind, which set up a big Eagles' bucket. It was his second. Bowman had nine on the game.
“I used to always do it,” Daniels said. “I came from behind and got it. Crawford's very good, very skilled. But we came out with a W, again, so his 40 wasn't enough.”