INDIANAPOLIS | Seize the moment or let the moment seize you.
Park Tudor had a lot to do with Bowman Academy's underwhelming performance in Saturday's Class 2A state championship, but it was more than the Panthers' precision play that left Eagles coach Marvin Rea grumbling.
"When you're not mentally into the game, it's not going to happen," Rea said. "A couple of our kids were happy to be here. They were amazed coming out of the tunnel. Moral victories aren't what we drive down I-65 for. We'll try to use it as a learning experience so maybe they won't be amazed when they see 16,000 people out there. Sometimes, you have to learn the hard way."
Park Tudor looked every bit like a team that had been there the last two years. Bowman, which has long thrived on emotion, never looked like itself.
No swagger. No chatter. No strut.
Rea could only shake his head and wonder why, in the biggest game on the biggest stage, his team was flatter than northern Indiana.
"In retrospect, they were the team that wanted it the most, point-blank," Rea said. "There's no sugarcoating it."
How else do you chalk up a team with a front line of 6-foot-5, 6-6 and 6-10 getting outrebounded by an opponent with one regular over 6-4? Even Park Tudor point guard Yogi Ferrell, whose Mr. Basketball stock soared with a near triple-double performance, nabbed nine boards. He's 5-11.
Watching the teams in warmups, you might've predicted a blowout. It just would've been the other way around.
"They weren't very athletic, but they were very disciplined," Bowman senior DeJuan Marrero said. "They knew what they were doing. They executed well."
Ferrell carved up the Bowman pressure, either finding super soph Trevon Bluiett inside or kicking out to a wide open Paul Bayt, who zapped the Eagles' spirit early with four first-quarter 3s.
"They were just happy (Bowman) didn't put the ball under their arm at halfcourt," Park Tudor coach Ed Schilling said, refuting any notion that the Panthers wanted a slower tempo.
The same Eagles guards who got after the likes of D-I recruits Gary Harris (Michigan State) and Ronnie Johnson (Purdue) had nothing for the IU-bound Ferrell.
"It's like our guards were amazed by his level of play," Rea said. "They get into you. They deny you the ball. They didn't want to get into Yogi. They didn't want to deny Yogi. Our second line wasn't hustling back. That hasn't been the case all year. They didn't show up. I'm not sure what happened."
On the offensive end, Bowman had no solution to Park Tudor's 2-3 zone, which seems to rival the effectiveness of Syracuse's. It was inconsistent getting the ball into the paint and shot a woeful 1 of 17 from the arc.
"I really thought we were going to knock down the 3," Rea said. "We had an excellent week of practice. It was just one of those days. They just didn't fall. They were packing it in, doubling DeJuan and Steve (Hawkins). Our guards had to be patient, reverse the ball and not force up shots."
For someone like Marrero, who's embodied the passion of Bowman hoops for four years, it was a tough way to go out.
"You can't teach heart," he said.
This column represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.