GARY | The Bowman Academy boys basketball team was having lunch. The Eagles weren't talking cocky hoops in early January. How could they?
Tradition-rich Bowman was 2-7 at the time.
Junior Justin King and sophomore Davon Dillard started barking at each other over a bag of potato chips. Before long, both were taking punches while the rest of the team looked on.
That night, at practice, the Eagles ran for 2 1/2 hours.
"Early on we did not respect the game," Bowman coach Marvin Rea said. "I told them if they didn't want to do it they could quit. It was embarrassing."
A week earlier Bowman drove from Evansville to Indianapolis in a snowstorm. They got to their hotel at 4 a.m. The Eagles had a game at 10 a.m. At 5 a.m. Rea heard noise in the players' room.
He walked in and they were playing dice and goofing around. He suspended half the team and only six players played in games against Ben Davis and Lawrence Central.
"When the season started our guys thought they were all that, only worrying about personal stats and they thought people were going to roll over just because they were playing Bowman," Rea said. "I had to wake them up. I had to get them to respect the game.
"They finally came together. We became a better team and they became better people. And that is the most important thing."
Last Saturday the Eagles beat Linton-Stockton 86-73 to win the Class 2A state championship. Rea's teaching first, and coaching secondly, is what helped Bowman cut down the final net.
Rea is The Times Coach of the Year for 2012-13.
"We wouldn't have got where we are without coach," senior Antonio Pipkin said. "When the season started we weren't very good. We thought we were but he knew better. He broke us down. He built us up. He helped us get to where we are."
Bowman set a 2A record for points scored, 86. The old record of 79 came last year when Park Tudor pounded the Eagles in Indianapolis.
The team's defense forced 23 Miners' turnovers and had 16 steals.
Bowman became the first boys hoops program to win state titles in two different classes. The Eagles won the 2010 Class A state crown.
They won 16 of their last 18 games. Most of the wins came after the torn bag of Ruffles.
At the state press conference after the win, Rea brought every member of the team into the room filled with reporters. This was his third state finals post-game press conference. It was the first time he took the whole team into the room.
"For us to be there it took every single member of the team," Rea said. "We weren't very good when the season started. But we came together and started to play better. The kids finally learned to respect the game.
"If we didn't, we never would've won it all."