It shouldn't be a surprise that it took Fort Wayne Dwenger's boys basketball team a little while to get rolling. There was a chill in the air this winter.
First, seven of the 13 varsity Saints were on the football team.
They played on Nov. 30 at Lucas Oil Stadium, a 28-27 loss to Columbus East in the Class 4A state championship game.
Then, the winter of 2013-14 hit while the orange balls started to bounce.
“We had six weeks where we didn't have a full week of school,” Dwenger boys basketball coach Matt Kostoff said. “It was difficult to practice. This winter was pretty tough on us.”
On Saturday the Saints (17-8) will play No. 3 Bowman Academy (21-4) in the Class 3A Northern Semistate at Huntington North High School.
The winner will advance to the state championship game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse the following Saturday.
The Eagles are playing in their third straight semistate, the first in 3A. This is the first semistate for the Saints since 1996.
"The regular season was a roller coaster for us," Kostoff said.
After winning their first five games, four consecutive losses occurred. A two-win break was followed by four more straight losses. That's two wins in 10 games.
But Dwenger has a 10-game winning streak heading into the Bowman game.
In Saturday's 50-47 overtime win over Muncie Central in the Blackford Regional, senior Grady Eifert played huge. The brother of Notre Dame football star and Bengals draft pick, Tyler Eifert, had a couple steals, free throws and the game-clinching layup.
Eifert is 6-foot-5 and is averaging 15 points and nine rebounds.
"He's a good player and he knows how to play in big games," Kostoff said.
Mike Fiacable was Dwenger's quarterback. The 6-foot-1 senior guard will play football at Air Force. Junior point guard Kyle Hartman plays the point and he is averaging 10 points per game.
Junior Marcus Stepp was a great athlete on the football team and he takes the same speed and toughness on the hardwood. Senior Jeff Mugg is a 6-foot-4 center. He plays the post like a linebacker.
"Our team has a football mentality," Kostoff said. "They play tough. They play physical."
In five playoff games no one has scored more than 48 against Dwenger. Bowman is averaging 91 points a game in five postseason games, topping 100 twice.
Kostoff watched Bowman win the Class 2A state championship game last March and he saw the Eagles beat Fort Wayne Northrop 73-62 on Jan. 11. He knows what his team is up against.
Something is going to have to give, either a high-flying offense or a brick wall defense.
"They are very impressive," Kostoff said of Bowman. "They are very athletic and very deep. They have good shooters and a great inside-out game. (Justin) King and (Davon) Dillard are very good.
"No. 1 we have to stop the turnovers. We'll have some but we have to be smart with the ball. We have to get back on defense and be competitive on the boards."