PEORIA—Bogan’s season has been remarkably steady, which didn’t have to be the case.
The Bengals have two uncommitted All-State seniors, but neither player let his college aspirations impact 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. Yesterday 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 on the court Friday at Carver Arena as the Bengals cruised to a 51-31 win against DePaul Prep in the Class 3A state semifinals.
Agee, a 6-8 senior, led the way with 15 points and 13 rebounds. He shot 5-for-8.
“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 showcased his perimeter skills for the college coaches in attendance, draining two three-pointers in the first half. He says he isn’t worried about recruiting at all 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. They held the Rams without a basket for a nearly nine-minute stretch of the second half.
“Bogan is a fantastic team, well-coached,” DePaul Prep coach Tommy Kleinschmidt said. “They have a lot of talented, size, shooters and speed. We are a better team than this, but Bogan had everything to do with it.”
The Rams (24-10) shot 11-for-44. Perry Cowan, one of the state’s most efficient scorers, led DePaul Prep with 14 points and 10 rebounds, but he also struggled with his shot.
“We had some good looks early and we just didn’t make them,” Kleinschmidt said. “They absolutely murdered us in transition. And [Agee] hurt us, credit to him.”
Senior Jordan Booker had 10 points and three assists for Bogan and sophomore Darrion Jones added 10 points and three steals off the bench.
Goodwin has been waiting all season to showcase his team’s 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 have an even bigger game on the big court on Saturday. The Bengals will face the Peoria Manual-East St. Louis winner in the Class 3A championship game.
“We’ve been working hard,” Goodwin said. “Maybe we are getting over the hump and becoming one of the elite teams in the state.”