HUNTINGTON | Most of the time parents need to be stern and strict with their kids, leading them in the right direction through life.
But once in a while, it’s good to let the kids roam free and let loose.
Basketball is like life and Bowman Academy coach Marvin Rea likes to say how he thinks of his players as his own children and how they’re brothers to each other.
So when senior guard Anthony Cole launched a long alley-oop pass from the other side of half court with 25 seconds left, and junior forward Davon Dillard slammed it home one-handed, it was Rea’s way of giving his kids a cookie.
In the end, the crowd-and-player-pleasing play sealed an 85-71 victory over Fort Wayne Dwenger in the Class 3A Northern Semistate at Huntington North, even though the Saints had cut a 21-point lead down to five in the fourth quarter.
“These guys play loose,” Rea said, sounding just like a parent defending his kids when they are a little reckless. “I guess they’re risky like their coach. I would have preferred he pull the ball out and run some clock, but I need Dillard to be happy and if that’s what it takes …”
He also added a second dunk about 10 seconds later after another Dwenger turnover.
Dillard spent much of the second half on the bench in foul trouble, but his two dunks were part of an 8-0 run to finish the game after the Saints (17-9) had cut the lead to 77-71.
“Cole came to the bench saying, ‘I need you,’ so I knew I had to come back and contribute,” said Dillard, who had nine points. “We knew (Dwenger) was going to fight and not give up.”
Bowman (22-4) advances to its third straight state championship game Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to face defending 3A champ Greensburg, which defeated Guerin Catholic in the southern semistate.
The Eagles led by 21 points at halftime before the Saints gradually chipped away in the third, then had a 9-0 run midway through the fourth.
“We came out a little flat in the third quarter,” Rea said. “I told the guys at halftime it was 0-0 and (Dwenger) would come out hard. You have to expect teams to make a run. It’s semistate and no one’s going to give up.”
Bowman built that 21-point cushion on the strength of some hot shooting from Austin Daniels, who scored 16 points in the first half – 12 of them coming from four 3-pointers.
“I was feeling it and my teammates kept feeding me,” said Daniels, who only added one more point to his total after cramping up early in the third quarter and needing time to recover. “Coach tells us to keep shooting when we’re feeling it and I wanted to be legendary in a game like this.”
The other factor in building the big lead was turnovers. Bowman’s active defense caused 16 Dwenger miscues in the first half, while the Eagles only committed four.
Cole led the Eagles with 21 points off the bench, while Justin King added 10 in limited time due to foul trouble.
Dwenger’s Grady Eifert led all scorers with 23, while Kyle Hartman and Michael Fiacable each had 16.