While it has been tested in spots, Tipton’s boys basketball team has been seen as the favorite in each of its IHSAA Class 2A state tournament games, a five-game stretch where the Blue Devils have won by an average of 22.2 points per game.
The game is about to change. And more than likely, it’s going to change dramatically.
The veteran Blue Devils today will take their show on the road for the first time this postseason, where they’ll meet powerhouse Bowman Academy of Gary in the Lafayette Jeff Semistate, an Eagles club that boasts three NCAA Division I commits in its starting lineup. The winner will advance to the state finals.
Though the task will be tall — literally — Tipton is trying to soak in the unique experience of returning to the semistate for the second straight year, a first for the program.
“It’s fun that some people that don’t normally follow us are trying to get behind us right now,” Blue Devils coach Brad Dickey said. “Obviously, it’d be an incredible accomplishment, so that makes it sort of exciting. We’re up against it right now. We have a tough opponent.
“Survival. It’s absolutely going to be a game of surviving spots against a long, tall, trapping opponent.”
No. 5-ranked Bowman (16-8) is in its first season in Class 2A. The Ball State charter school, which is in its fourth year in the IHSAA, claimed a Class A state title in 2010. The Eagles play a schedule that includes six out-of-state teams, all from the Chicago and Detroit areas. Their four in-state losses have come to 4A powers in Indianapolis North Central, Warren Central, Hamilton Southeastern and Lawrence North. Bowman defeated its lone 2A opponent, Fort Wayne Luers, 101-74 on Jan. 28.
“I think we’ve had a pretty good season,” said Bowman coach Marvin Rea, who was a walk-on at Purdue in the early 1990s. “We’ve gotten some of our guys back from injuries. We’ve played the whole year with different starting lineups. I think our schedule is pretty tough, which prepares us for the postseason. We’re excited, but we’re just trying to take it one game at a time.”