Tag Archives: Kent City High School

Kent City Did It Again

There are few teams that lost as much as the Kent City Eagles did last spring as two all-time Kent City greats, Kenzie Bowers and Jenna Harrison, graduated. The two school and state record holders left the small town of Kent City, Michigan to continue their basketball careers in the collegiate ranks (Bowers at Illinois State and Harrison at Siena Heights).

One could have been forgiven for assuming the Eagles would take a step back in 2022, even as they brought back several key pieces of that historic run. The Eagles had other plans and have battled their way into the state final with an unblemished record for the second straight season after handling Madison Heights Bishop Foley with relative ease. The Eagles got a huge boost from junior guard Lexie Bowers, who was held to just 6 points in the state quarterfinal, but was on fire inside Breslin for the second straight year.

Last year the Eagles faced Grass Lake and Big 10 Indiana commit Lexus Bargesser & Northwood commit Gabi Lutchka. This year the Eagles advance to challenge another giant, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep.

The Gators are loaded with Division 1 talent and led by Texas A&M commit Mya Petticord and Bethune-Cookman commit Karianna Woods.

One could also be forgiven for thinking the Eagles should shift into “just glad to have made it” mode with such a task ahead of them Saturday evening. While Arbor Prep’s aggressive and physical style of play will be on display in the final, it should be expected to see a Kent City team ready to respond and play with a chip on their shoulder as well.

It is not often that the David in the “David and Goliath” metaphor is the defending state runner-up, but it is the place Kent City finds itself and the stigma they’ve been upending all season long on their way to a perfect 26-0 record going into the final matchup of the season with a state championship on the line.

Clean Sweep for Area Girls Basketball

The talents of west Michigan girls basketball were on full display Tuesday night. Kent City traveled an hour south to face Schoolcraft in the quarterfinal for a second year in a row, Rockford welcomed East Lansing just down the road at Calvin University and West Catholic faced undefeated Edwardsburg in Wayland.

A year after Kent City (25-0) routed Schoolcraft (finished season 23-2), the teams battled it out through four quarters of defensive brilliance. Schoolcraft managed to slow Kent City star, Lexie Bowers, and held her to just six points. However, sisters Emma and Maddie Geers played sister-sister and led the Eagles on the offensive end to the 34-33 victory. The Eagles will head to Breslin for the second time in school history in as many years. They will face Madison Heights Bishop Foley (20-3).

While it took the Kent City faithful four quarters to find out if their Eagles would advance, West Catholic (24-1) had their answer much earlier in the night. Undefeated Edwardsburg (finished season 24-1) was outmatched from the jump and never got their bearings. The Falcons ran away with things in the first half and did the unthinkable by forcing a running clock in the second half during the state quarterfinal. West Catholic advanced with the stunning 82-27 final. The Falcons are playing with a fire brought on by a heartbreaking exit last year, partially due to Covid protocols and will have something to prove against Detroit Country Day this Thursday.

The final showcase of west Michigan girls basketball talent was the Rockford Rams (23-2) and East Lansing Trojans (finished season 19-5). Both teams are stacked with stellar guards able to handle and shoot the ball with efficiency. East Lansing also had the unique aspect of a post presence in senior center, Ella Miller. Both teams played a hard-fought first half with Rockford freshman Anna Wypych giving a standout shooting performance on the way to a 23-21 lead at the break. East Lansing’s offensive efficiency waned in the third quarter after coming out hot in their first few possessions and fell behind double digits. The Trojans made several runs, but couldn’t sustain them long enough to overcome the Rams’ hot shooting touches. The Rams advanced to the state final with the 54-43 victory.

All three west Michigan programs advance, proving once again that west Michigan hosts some of the best girls basketball in the state and deserves more recognition in the state-wide hoops landscape.

Kenzie Bowers and Illinois State Redbirds are Going Dancing

Just a year removed from leading the Kent City Eagles to their school’s first ever state championship game, Kenzie Bowers is flying high again as a true freshman with the Illinois State Redbirds. ISU just punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament after stunning victories in the Missouri Valley semifinal and final games.

Though Bowers’ role has looked much different this year than when she wore the red & white of Kent City, she has played an important one for the emergent Redbirds with stretches as a starter when others were down due to covid protocols and as a reliable player of the bench.

Whatever her role will be in the Redbirds opening matchup with #2 seed Iowa, it is certainly an incredible moment in her young collegiate career and one that many excellent players never achieve. Such a moment may not come again, but for now the Redbirds have this season and only one task in front of them: beat the Hawkeyes.

Area Teams Prepare for Big Playoff Matchups

Boys Basketball Roundup

Northview will have one of the best showdowns in the area as they face a battle-hardened Muskegon team in Grand Haven. Despite being favorites for much of the season and knocking off several giants throughout the regular season, Northview will have their hands full with Muskegon and stellar forward Ethan Hill. Northview has some players to be contended with as well and it will be tough for the Big Reds to slow down all of them. Expect Northview to not overlook this matchup even though they have bigger goals on the horizon.

A year removed from a trip to Breslin and a state runner-up finish, Tri-Unity Christian will look to continue their run this year with goals of taking down the title in star Brady Titus’ senior campaign. It’s championship or bust this year for the Crusaders.

Girls Basketball Roundup
Kent City is no stranger to long post-season runs and will not be unfamiliar with their state quarterfinal opponent, Schoolcraft. The two teams met last year in the quarterfinal round with Kent City dominating their way to a nearly 40 point victory. While both teams have been rolling again this year, Kent City has had to find a new identity behind first year head coach, Aleah Holcomb, and emerging playmakers Maddie Geers and Lexie Bowers with the Eagles losing several key pieces from the 2021 squad. Despite those key changes from last year, Kent City is certainly a favorite to emerge as the victor and head for their second ever trip to the Breslin Center later this week.

The Rockford Rams will have a tough matchup against visiting East Lansing at Calvin University on Tuesday Night. The Rams upset Hudsonville by 22, despite losing both regular season matchups by double digits. The Rams will have another tough test as they face a very well-rounded East Lansing team, which has been rolling as well the last month. This one could go either way, but the Rams will look to play the role of underdog again, but are fully capable of turning the tables as well.

West Catholic got revenge over Newaygo, the team responsible for knocking them out of the tournament last spring. While Newaygo may have got the better of the Falcons that day, West Catholic had vindication on the brain as two of their key players were out of that previous matchup due to covid protocols. This year was a different story and West Catholic dominated for the full 32 minutes. They will have a solid matchup in southern Michigan this Tuesday, but should come out the victors and head to Breslin later this week.

Other Teams in Action this Week

Calvin Christian High School
Sparta High School
Wyoming High School
West Ottowa High School
Grand Rapids Christian High School
Grand Rapids Catholic Central

Kent City Eagles Continue Journey

Despite a very aggressive Covenant Christian team, the Eagles continued their journey towards the grand prize, a State High School Championship.

Covenant Christian led most of the first quarter, with the Eagles trailing close behind. But soon the tide changed and the Eagles took off.

Lexi Bowers finished with 19 points, but it was Madelyn Geers who had to take charge when Bowers got her fourth foul at the begging of the 3rd quarter. The Kent City Eagles defeated Covenant Christian 46-32.

Lexie Bowers 19 points Madelyn Geers 16 points Taryn Preston 9 points.

Kent City (24-0) will play Schoolcraft (23-1) tuesday at Edwardsburg High School at 7pm.

Birds of a Different Feather: Kenzie Bowers Thriving at Next Level

Four-time all-state guard, Kenzie Bowers, traded the red, white and black of the Kent City High School Eagles for the red, white and black of the Illinois State University Redbirds when she committed to the Missouri Valley Conference Division 1 program during her senior campaign.

The standout guard became as big a household name as a high school girls basketball player could hope to become and did so representing a small school basketball powerhouse in one of the Michigan High School Athletics Association’s (MHSAA) smallest divisions under the tutelage of head coach, Scott Carlson (now the Director of Scouting and Student-Athlete Development at Western Michigan University). Bowers capped off her high school career with an abbreviated season due to Covid delays instituted by the MHSAA, but still managed to finish with an impressive 21-1 record and a state runner-up title.

Her 1,822 points are a school record and would have certainly eclipsed the 2,000 point mark, had she been given a full senior season. Bowers finished her prep career averaging 19.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 5.0 steals per game as a four-year varsity letter winner.

Bowers has seen success at every level and has been a starter her entire career, so the shift to the Division 1 collegiate ranks brought with it an unusual experience: coming off the bench.

“The big difference is that in high school I needed to score maybe 15 to 20 points a game, whereas here, I don’t have to score at all. I didn’t score at all today and that’s perfectly fine as long as I’m doing what I can at the point, playing defense, getting rebounds and assists. That’s the biggest difference. I have to play hard all-around and that doesn’t mean I have to score a lot.”

Despite having to learn and adapt to a new role, Bowers has thrived in just her first season as a Redbird. She has set season highs for herself of 17 points (Missouri Baptist), 5 rebounds (St. Louis University), 2 assists (SLU) and 2 steals (Mo. Baptist) while averaging over 13 minutes per game as a true freshman.

On New Year’s Day, Bowers got the call to start for the Redbirds after three players, and ISU’s top two scorers, were lost to Covid protocols. The opportunity could not be more apropos, kicking off the traditional day of new opportunities with her first collegiate start. It also happened to coincide with Bowers’ first appearance in the historic I-74 rivalry against bitter conference foe and defending MVC tournament champs, Bradley University.

Bowers appreciated the opportunity. “It was exciting. It’s a different feel when I’m starting and I feel like I almost play a little bit different. It’s cool that I’ve got to that point and I’ve worked hard for it.”

The fun and drama of her first start was mirrored in the game, itself. The Redbirds (pre-season MVC #4) fell behind the Bradley Braves (pre-season MVC #5) by ten after a blistering scoring spree and things looked to be getting out of hand with just a few minutes left in the first half before ISU responded with an incredible 14-0 run of their own behind a series of three point buckets by senior guard Kayel Newland, which capped the half off with a 35-32 Redbird lead.

The Redbirds came out of the break and continued their dominant play, extending their lead to 14 before the Braves made one last attempt to close the gap. ISU finished things out with the 64-57 victory over their rivals to open Missouri Valley Conference play. Bowers finished the day scoreless, but contributed 21 critical minutes, as well as 3 rebounds, 2 steals and a block on the defensive end.

“It was great. The coaches came in the locker room and we sprayed them with water. It’s really fun. You can tell there is a big rivalry during the game.”

The victory set the Redbirds off on the right foot, overcoming the shorthanded effort, to begin MVC play 1-0 with lofty goals on the horizon. “This is a good start to hopefully getting a conference championship. That’s a big goal and something that we are all working hard for.”

Bowers had many things to be thankful for in celebrating the big victory and her first collegiate start.

“I’ve had a lot of people help me get here. Scott (Carlson) for example. He’s always pushed me really hard and help me get to where I am today. My parents have helped me a lot. I’ve had lots of good friends and teammates that have pushed me really hard. Kent City is a great place to be.”

Bowers is likely to resume her role as an integral piece of the Redbird attack off the bench in the coming weeks, but the experience of starting this early is instrumental in the growth of her young collegiate career. She and the Redbirds will trek through the next 4 games against favorable opponents Indiana State (MVC #9), Evansville (MVC #10), Valparaiso (MVC #6), Loyola Chicago (MVC #7) and Southern Illinois (MVC #8), before their biggest tests of the conference schedule with three consecutive matchups against the pre-season MVC top 3 programs: Missouri State (MVC #1), Northern Iowa (#3) and Drake (#2).

Kent City Back Again with Win over Muskegon

A year after a state final exit, losing two 4-year starters and a tumultuous off-season that ended with the exit if veteran coach, Scott Carlson, the Kent City Eagles seemed to have more questions than answers going into their season opener at Muskegon High School.

The Eagles dominated the matchup last winter and put many doubts to rest early on a season-opening 16-0 run before the Big Reds got on the board.

Things changed drastically in the second half as Muskegon adjusted during the break and pushed their way back into the mix. However, with Jamya Anderson sitting out the game, the Big Reds were simply one playmaker away from being able to tighten things up and the Eagles garnered the season opening victory.

Kent City Returns with State Finalist Trophy in Tow

There is an old adage in basketball: end on a make. The quip relates to players’ seeming necessity to not end a shooting session or practice until they can end on a made basket. The final score did not reflect the outcome the Eagles had hoped it would as Grass Lake held on for the narrow 52-50 win at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, MI, but Kent City did what all competitors hope to do: end on a make. Despite the outcome being different than hoped, the Eagles capped off their season in a fitting way, making the final bucket of the 2021 Division 3 season.

As things kicked off on Friday afternoon, Grass Lake was clearly the beneficiary of fresh legs after their semifinal game on Wednesday was cancelled by forfeit and the Warriors came out firing on all cylinders. Kent City managed to hold Grass Lake All State performers, Lexus Bargesser and Abrie Cabana under wraps in the first half. That focus led to a wild shooting day for Grass Lake’s Gabi Lutchka. Lutchka played lights out in the first half with 14 points, including four three point buckets, before the Eagles held her scoreless in the second half. While the Eagles were able to spread the scoring around in the first half and benefitted from two stellar three point buckets by Taryn Preston, the Eagles shot a solid, but sustainable percentage from the field. That shooting kept them in the game, but the Eagles fell behind by double digits and looked to be out of it multiple times, only to rally back each and every time.

Bargesser took over the scoring duties in the second half for Grass Lake, most coming on fast break layups, and finished the day with an impressive stat line of 16 points, 10 rebounds, 5 steals and 1 block. The Warriors finish the season 20-1 and Division 3 champion.

The Eagles were led by senior guards Jenna Harrison and Kenzie Bowers who finished with 16 and 13, respectively. The Eagles finish their season 21-1 and brought home the school’s first ever girls basketball state finalist trophy. In the end, the Eagles battled back every time it appeared they were out of it and fell just two points short with the season ending 52-50 loss. This won’t be the last time these seniors see the hardwood as Kenzie Bowers heads to Illinois State and Jenna Harrison will continue her basketball career at Sienna Heights next year. The 2021 senior class will be a tough hole to fill, but if this post-season has showed one thing, it is that the Eagles have a bright future ahead of them with several returners ready to take over as program leaders.

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