Linton achieved its goal of reaching the state finals. But in the three-hour bus ride home from Richmond Saturday evening, the Miners apparently refocused on a new goal.
“We got to find a way to win. We’re ecstatic to be here, but not just happy to be here,” Linton coach Joey Hart said Monday morning at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
The No. 10-ranked Miners (24-3) take on No. 7-ranked Bowman Academy in the Class 2A state championship game in the second game Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Triton High School (20-5) plays Borden (23-3) in the 10:30 a.m. opening game of the 103rd Indiana High School Athletic Association boys basketball state finals, followed by the Miners and the Eagles at approximately 12:45 p.m.
Triton, the 2008 Class A state champ, is making its fourth appearance in the state finals. This is Borden’s first time in the finals.
The tournament resumes at 6 p.m. Saturday when Fort Wayne Concordia (23-4) meets Greensburg (25-1) in Class 3A. Greensburg is in state finals for the first time since 1931, while Concordia is in Indianapolis for the first time.
And in the final contest, defending champion Carmel (24-2) meets Indianapolis Cathedral (25-5) in the Class 4A contest. This is Cathedral’s first trip to the finals since 1998.
Bowman Academy coach Marvin Rea should feel right at home preparing for the state finals. He won the 1987 Arthur L. Trester Award as a player for Gary Roosevelt. And the fifth-year coach has the Eagles in the state finals for the third time — Class A champs 2010 and runner-up last year.
“I think [experience] is definitely a positive with my experience of being here. The logistics of it all can be overwhelming for a coach. I know my first year it was really overwhelming for me, having to drive back down [to Gary] for practice, coordinating practice here, if you are staying the night, especially for us being so far away. It’s really different,” Rea said.
However, Bowman does not return any starters from the 2012 runner-up team. Antonio Pipkin, a 6-3 senior forward who averages 12 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, and Justin King, a 6-7 junior averaging 13.6 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists per game, came off the bench for the Eagles last year.
Joining Pipkin and King in the starting lineup are: Arthur Haggard, a 6-3 junior guard averaging 13.7 points per game; Davon Dillard, a 6-4 sophomore, averaging 16 points and 6.7 rebounds; and Darrion Riddle, a 6-0, junior, averaging 1.9 points.
The Eagles opened the season with four straight losses, but are currently riding a seven-game winning streak, including the 67-64 semistate win over Tipton.
“We have two seniors. We had an up-and-down season this year, losing nine games. We had a pretty tough schedule. One of those [teams] we lost to [Cathedral] are here today,” Rea said.
Bowman Academy plans to find Linton’s 6-8 Austin Karazsia and 6-5 Dess Fougerousse as soon as they get off the bus. Karazsia is averaging 20.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game and Fougerousse, Linton’s all-time scoring leader, is averaging 20.9 points per game.
Completing the Miners’ lineup are Bryant Jackson, a 6-3 junior averaging 4.7 points; Jackson Bohnert a 6-4 senior averaging 6.4 points and 4.3 rebounds and Keith Fulk, a 5-10 senior averaging 4.8 points per game.
“[The Miners] have a team full of seniors and I know they have to be totally excited, this being their first run [to the state finals]. So I can expect the whole town to shut down and come [here] to support those guys. We’re going to have to be totally prepared for everything, not just the game plan coach Hart has, but also their fans and the support they’re going to get from the community,” Rea said.
Linton has prepared for quick opponents before, but none with quickness and size. Bowman likes to play a fullcourt pressing, up-and-down game. Rea noted that Linton used five or six players, while he likes to use the entire bench.
“[The Eagles are] going to be a little longer,” Hart said. “They’ll probably close on the ball and cause us to pass a little quicker. We have to be more precise, we have to be a little sharper. We’re going to have to take care of more of the little things.”
The little things are what make a great championship party.
Meet The Teams
• Austin Karazsia, a 6-8 senior averaging 20.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game
• Dess Fougerousse, a 6-5 senior averaging 20.9 points per game.
• Bryant Jackson, a 6-3 junior averaging 4.7 points;
• Jackson Bohnert a 6-4 senior averaging 6.4 points and 4.3 rebounds
• Keith Fulk, a 5-10 senior averaging 4.8 points per game.
Bowman Academy starters
• Antonio Pipkin, a 6-3 senior averaging 12 points and 7.4 rebounds per game
• Justin King, a 6-7 junior averaging 13.6 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists per game
• Arthur Haggard, a 6-3 junior averaging 13.7 points per game;
• Davon Dillard, a 6-4 sophomore, averaging 16 points and 6.7 rebounds;
• Darrion Riddle, a 6-0, junior, averaging 1.9 points.