Kenzie Bowers and Jenna Harrison have become so synonymous with Kent City varsity basketball in the last four years, that one just assumes they will be back again next year. The two guards have played with such poise and skill throughout their four year varsity careers that they could have been confused for seniors many times along the way. One wonders if opposing coaches have looked ahead to the forthcoming Kent City roster each year and thought, “They are coming back again?!”
Despite so much of the focus in Kent City being put on the team and program as a whole, a tall task when the town of just over a thousand people carries a roster with a four time all-state nominee and Miss Michigan Basketball candidate (Bowers), the level of camaraderie has been by design and is a testament to one of the things that makes high school sports so special: community.
While this year’s senior class has had a lasting impact on the Kent City program, one need only take a cursory look at the underclassmen and even youth programs to see that the end is not in sight for this small town powerhouse. However, when the visiting Holton Red Devils came to town on Friday night, it was clear that the torch was not yet ready to be passed and the two familiar faces of Harrison and Bowers, covered in masks this season, donned the numbers 4 & 23 once again, showing just how much they have meant to a program they have represented the last four years.
The game opened with Holton showing they were prepared to fight it out with everything they had until the final buzzer, but it soon became clear that Kent City was simply too much for the Red Devils. Defensive pressure forced turnover after turnover, seemingly leading to an assembly line of scores, coming courtesy of the entire Eagle roster and culminated in Bowers scoring her 1500th career point on route to a 24-0 first quarter and a 48-0 halftime score. Just a couple minutes into the second half, Harrison netted her 1000th point; fittingly on a three point attempt. Despite being shut out in the first half, the Red Devils kept their spirits and competitiveness high on their way to a few big buckets in the second half. Despite the valiant effort, the Eagles finished the game with a convincing 79-9 CSAA victory.
All seven Eagles got on the board with notable performances by junior Kierra Flegel and sophomore Lexie Bowers, who each scored a dozen points off the bench.
While much of the Eagles’ success the last four years can be attributed to the senior duo of Kenzie Bowers and Jenna Harrison, it is a testament to the program and the girls, themselves, that it has never felt more “about them” than their level of play has dictated. They have made their mark in Kent City history with an incredible level of unassuming humility that lets their play do all the talking. Despite witnessing two players reach such incredible individual career milestones, fanfare (diminished this season with fan limitations) was mild and marked by small celebrations with family and friends following the game.
Even on a night that these girls could be forgiven for making it about their individual accolades, it is clear that there is a singular focus on the horizon and one that they all hope to celebrate together as a team.
The Eagles will have a few tests early next month as they take on league-rival Morley Stanwood and class A Muskegon in their march towards the postseason. The games will be an important challenge for a team that is likely to run through most of its schedule heading into district play and will need that demanding point of reference when they inevitably face the challenges of a deep tournament run this spring.