Bowers' Balance Paying Big for Kent City
December 20, 2018
By Dean Holzwarth
Special for Second Half
KENT CITY – Kenzie Bowers’ mother made sure her daughter wasn’t going to grow up to become just a scorer.
An extra incentive did just the trick.
“When I was younger my mom would record my games, and she would give me a dollar for every five or 10 points, but then she would also give me a dollar for every assist, too, because she didn’t want me to go out there and think that I was just going to score,” the Kent City standout sophomore said. “That was my way of thinking I was going to score, but I’m not going to be selfish with the ball because I wanted money both ways.”
Bowers, a 5-foot-10 guard, is still doing her share of scoring and distributing, and she’s picking up where she left off after a sensational freshman season.
In her debut campaign on the varsity, Bowers averaged 19.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game while also leading her team in assists and steals en route to being named to the Class C all-state first team.
Bowers also helped spark Kent City’s historic postseason run to the Class C Quarterfinals.
“I’ve talked to Coach since seventh grade, and he told me if I kept working hard then he would have a spot for me on the varsity,” Bowers said. “He wanted me to be a leader, and I knew I was going to have to be a leader. I was ready for it, and I expected it.”
Kent City girls basketball coach Scott Carlson has known Bowers since first grade and helped coach her at every level leading up to high school.
He knew early on that she had a bright future ahead.
“By third grade you knew she was going to be a ball player because she was playing with our fifth and sixth-grade travel players at that point,” Carlson said. “She could handle the ball, and she loved the game. She was a baller from the word go.”
Bowers’ passion for the game developed from watching her two older brothers, and she started playing with older girls when she was in third grade.
“I was the only third-grader, and I think it was definitely good to have that experience going into my fourth and fifth grade years when I was playing against girls my own age,” Bowers said. “You could tell I had played recently, and I was the second or third tallest girl on my team, but I was very skinny.”
Bowers’ overall skill set quickly progressed. She attended multiple basketball camps and started playing AAU.
As middle school began, college coaches became aware of Bowers’ rare abilities.
“Seventh grade was the first time someone told me that college coaches were watching me and they thought I was pretty good,” Bowers said. “I was like, ‘College coaches are watching me?’ It was definitely surreal.”
A highlight of Bowers’ first high school season was a 37-point performance in a Regional Semifinal win over Beaverton.
Kent City went on to win its first Regional title in 29 years before losing to Pewamo-Westphalia in the Quarterfinals.
“She certainly surpassed what I expected of her as a freshman, but it didn’t surprise me in how hard she works,” Carlson said. “She’s very athletic, and she’s a quick study. If you show her something once she gets it quick, as quickly as anyone I’ve ever seen, and she’ll work on it until she perfects it.”
Bowers already has received several scholarship offers from Division I college programs, including Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Illinois State, Davidson and Oakland.
“It’s been really cool knowing I can go play college basketball at the next level,” Bowers said. “It makes me feel blessed and happy because I know I don’t have to spend all that money and I get to do something I love.”
Kent City is 4-1 this winter with its lone loss coming to Detroit Martin Luther King, 40-39.
Bowers is one of eight returning players from last season’s 22-4 squad.
“We didn’t lose anybody, so we know we are going to be a good team,” Bowers said. “We’re working to get better and make it further this season.”
Dean Holzwarth covered primarily high school sports for the Grand Rapids Press and MLive for 16 years and more recently served as sports editor of the Ionia Sentinel and as a sports photojournalist for WZZM. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org with story ideas for Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties.
PHOTOS: (Top) Kent City’s Kenzie Bowers drives to the basket against White Cloud during a Dec. 7 win. (Middle) Bowers works to get past a Detroit Martin Luther King defender during their Dec. 8 game at Okemos. (Photos courtesy of the Bowers family.)
Lansing Catholic Closes Season With Memorable Victory Close to Home
By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com
March 18, 2023
EAST LANSING – The Lansing Catholic girls basketball team took a short drive to end a long wait.
Playing just three miles from their high school, the Cougars defeated Frankenmuth 43-29 Saturday at the Breslin Center to win the MHSAA Division 2 Final. It was the first Finals title for the program since 1995.
“It felt like homecourt advantage a little bit,” Lansing Catholic senior guard Hannah Pricco said. “Our bus trip wasn’t super long. It just kind of felt like we were coming to our own court.”
The Cougars treated it that way, dominating from the beginning of the matchup in their first Finals trip since that 1995 title. They scored the game’s first 11 points and never looked back.
“This is, as you can imagine, extremely surreal,” Lansing Catholic coach Kacee Reid said. “You’re going through literally every emotion on the bench, especially in a game like that. Frankenmuth is making such a great comeback, and we knew they were going to fight to the end. To go through the anger and sadness and happiness, and now it’s over and we’ve won it. It’s just been a rollercoaster of emotions, and I can’t describe the pride I have in these girls.”
It was the second meeting between the two teams, with Lansing Catholic taking the first 74-42 on Feb. 2. But Reid wasn’t going to let her team come in overconfident.
“They didn’t get here by accident,” Reid said. “They’re in the state championship because they’re playing their best ball of the year. We played them a month and a half ago. … We’re a totally different team, and we knew they were a totally different team. We knew they had been playing some really good basketball, and it didn’t matter at all what that first outcome was. We knew this was going to be a battle.”
Lansing Catholic (24-5) never trailed, and led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter. Leah Richards led the Cougars with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Anna Richards had 14 points. Gabby Halliwill added seven.
The Cougars were spurred by their defense throughout, holding Frankenmuth to 9 of 36 shooting from the field and forcing 13 turnovers.
“For us, defensively, we had to switch it up,” Reid said. “We had to keep switching up between man and zone. They were making adjustments and we couldn’t really sit in one thing for too long; they got comfortable. That’s a credit to their coaching staff always making adjustments. We had to continue to switch things up defensively and try to hopefully make their shooters second-guess their shot, or maybe not know where we were coming from.”
Frankenmuth (25-3) didn’t go away, despite trailing by double digits for the majority of the game.
That was helped by Lansing Catholic shooting 1 of 11 from the field in the third quarter, and going scoreless for the final 5:26 of the frame.
The Eagles cut the lead to seven with 2:45 to play on a steal and layup from Clare Conzelmann, but never got closer.
“There was always belief no matter what detriment we got ourselves in,” Frankenmuth senior Lexi Boyke said. “I wouldn’t want to choose any other girls to play with and be in with at that point. I think we fought back and really prided ourselves on, ‘We can still do it.’ We didn’t stop fighting until the end.”
Lansing Catholic always figured Frankenmuth would make a run to get into the game, but was ready when it came.
“We knew they were going to make runs, we knew we weren’t going to hold them to seven points the whole game,” Anna Richards said. “We knew in the third quarter they were going to score, so we just had to stay composed, work the ball around on offense to get the good shots that we wanted.”
Boyke, who scored Frankenmuth’s first 10 points and was its only scorer well into the third quarter, finished with 16. She also reached 1,000 career points in the game, and had six rebounds, while Izzy Bernthal had seven.
Frankenmuth was making its first Finals appearance since winning the Class C title in 1996, one year after Lansing Catholic.
“That’s a really good Lansing Catholic team, and you’ve seen that from their postseason run and beating an undefeated West Catholic team, and tonight finishing their season off with a state championship. So, congratulations to them,” Frankenmuth coach Joe Jacobs said. “I’m super proud of our kids. They didn’t quit tonight. They could have. … Fun experience, one that we want to treasure forever, but the motivation to come back again is here after tonight’s loss.”
PHOTOS (Top) Lansing Catholic celebrates its Division 2 championship Saturday night at Breslin Center. (Middle) The Cougars’ Anna Richards (10) attempts to get a shot up over Frankenmuth’s Lexi Boyke. (Below) Tessa Roe (12) works to get past Clare Conzelmann and to the basket.