CHESTERTON — It may not have been Migel Nunnery's intention to rile up Chesterton when the Bowman Academy coach said Friday that E.C. Central was his team's next test.
Whatever the case, that's how the message was taken by the Trojans.
Times No. 7 Chesterton roared to 14-point first-quarter lead, held it through the half, then weathered a second-half storm that saw the No. 3 Eagles briefly take the lead to prevail 75-70.
"The coaches told us. We were motivated by that," Rhyss Lewis said after scoring 24 points in the win. "For me, he basically said he felt we weren't good enough to play them, to be in the gym with them. We showed we were."
Bowman (5-1) nipped at the Trojans' heels down the stretch, drawing within one twice in the final minute. It had a chance to tie but Langston Stallings' 3 was off and sophomore Austin Peterson knocked down clinching free throws with 10.8 seconds left.
"That's a team that can score so many so quick," Chesterton coach Tom Peller said. "They're so athletic. They're going to have runs. We just have to keep our composure. We bent, but we came back. I can't tell you how proud I am. You can call timeout, tell them what to do, but they have to figure it out."
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Chesterton (3-1) had plenty of support for Lewis. Antwan Beeks' 10 points included two big putback baskets in the teeth of the fourth-quarter fury. Niles Dilosa, returning from knee tendinitis, added 10, while Peterson, who played most of the fourth quarter with Jacob Weber fouled out, and Ray Yagelski each pitched in nine.
"Peterson and Yagelski were a big key," Peller said. "Ray played a solid game, one of his best. That was a big difference for us. Austin did a tremendous job, a sophomore getting his first big-time experience."
Montrell Barfield paced Bowman (5-1) with 18 points with Langston Stalling and Avery Edwards scoring 16. Kenneth Stalling netted 11 for the Eagles, who shot 32 percent with 10 first-half turnovers before finding their game in the second half.
The Trojans gave up the ball 10 times in the third quarter, many of them a result of Bowman steals. A 13-2 Eagles run turned a 10-point deficit into a 48-47 lead. Peterson's 3 to end the third broke a 50-50 tie and consecutive hoops on drives by Yagelski pushed Chesterton back up by seven.
"We were mentally ready for it, but we didn't think they were this fast," Lewis said. "Once we realized where the gaps were in the pressure -- there were little gaps there -- we came back. We picked it back up."
Chesterton led 71-70 inside the 30-second mark when pulled up for a long two. The decision may not have been what Peller wanted but the result was. All net.
"I don't want to tell them not to play (fast). That's how we want to play," Peller said. "We like to press, too. We mixed it up, tried to keep them off-balance. You've just got to get stops, take good shots and rebound. We rebounded a little better."