Bengals rip Rams to reach title game
PEORIA — Bogan’s season has been remarkably steady, which didn’t have to be the case.
The Bengals have two uncommitted AllState seniors, but neither let his college aspirations affect the team. Coach Arthur Goodwin has two full starting lineups worth of talent, so experienced seniors had to accept bench roles.
‘‘This is a great group of kids,’’ Goodwin said. ‘‘These guys like to sing on the bus. They have their own beats, their own raps. I just sit back and laugh and listen. They make songs up and all types of stuff. [On Thursday] I gave them a beat, and they started rapping about me. Then they made up a song about going downstate, going to Peoria.’’
That easygoing camaraderie was evident in Bogan’s 51-31 victory against DePaul Prep on Friday at Carver Arena in the Class 3A state semifinals. Rashaun Agee, a 6-8 senior, led the way with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
‘‘I just wanted to impact the game by rebounding the ball so we could keep up the pace,’’ Agee said. ‘‘For us to run, we need to rebound the ball.’’
Agee also showed off his perimeter skills for the college coaches in attendance, making two three-pointers in the first half. He said he isn’t worried about recruiting right now.
‘‘I’m waiting for state to be over,’’ Agee said. ‘‘I’m just driven to get this ring.’’
The Bengals (30-3) led 27-13 at halftime, then held the Rams (24-10) without a basket for a nearly nine-minute stretch of the second half.
‘‘Bogan is a fantastic team, well-coached,’’ DePaul Prep coach Tom Kleinschmidt said. ‘‘They have a lot of talent, size, shooters and speed. We are a better team than this, but Bogan had everything to do with it.’’
The Rams shot 11-for-44. Perry Cowan, one of the most efficient scorers in the state, led DePaul Prep with 14 points and 10 rebounds, but he struggled with his shot.
‘‘We had some good looks early and just didn’t make them,’’ Kleinschmidt said. ‘‘They absolutely murdered us in transition. And [Agee] hurt us. Credit to him.’’
Goodwin had been waiting all season for his team to show its speed on a college-sized court. The Bengals lived up to his expectations with 11 steals and multiple fast-break buckets.
‘‘When I got to this gym, my eyes lit up,’’ Goodwin said.
Bogan will play an even bigger game on the big court Saturday. The Bengals will face East St. Louis in the Class 3A title game.