EAST LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — With 5:44 to go, Kent City head coach Scott Carlson called a timeout as he watched his team fall behind 54-44.
For the then-undefeated Eagles (21-1), it was the first time all season the odds were against them in the closing minutes of a game.
“Our seniors never quit in this game,” Carlson said. “They played excellent and when we needed to turn the game around, they gave us a chance and executed the game plan.”
Those seniors are Kenzie Bowers and Jenna Harrison, two players who have been staples of the program the Eagles have built in recent years.
Out of the timeout, Bowers hit a huge triple to cut the deficit to seven. Then after the teams traded a couple possessions, Harrison made herself heard. A pair of deadeye 3-pointers on back-to-back trips down the floor put the Eagles within three points.
But Glass Lake had an answer. The Warriors got key free throws from Lexus Bargesser down the stretch, as Kent City fell 52-50 in the Division III state title game at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.
After the final horn sounded and Grass Lake rushed the floor near the Kent City bench, Bowers grabbed Harrison and hugged her. With the chaos going on around them, the two shared a moment to be thankful for one another.
“We just told each other good job and we got here together,” Harrison said as she teared up. “There was just a little bit of crying, of course.”
In a game where both teams executed well, the second quarter was a key reason the Warriors left the arena on top.
With Kent City leading 18-14 after the first frame, Grass Lake put together an 11-0 run, propelling them to a 28-21 advantage.
The game would slow down, but the Warriors still held a 30-24 lead heading into the break. Each team scored 10 points in the third quarter and then in the fourth quarter, the Eagles fell just a possession short.
“We weren’t quite executing on offensive sets like we should’ve (in the second quarter),” Bowers said. “It was a little bit of, ‘Oh, no, they are making shots and we didn’t want to.’ That second quarter kind of stuck it out until the end.”
Harrison tied Bargesser from Grass Lake with 16 points as a game high. Bowers finished with 13 points.
There is no getting around the outcome. The Eagles did not want to finish the season this way. That, however, doesn’t take away from the success Bowers, Harrison and this Eagles team has had this season and in the ones leading up to it.
“I just love these girls,” Bowers said. “A lot of these girls I’ve been playing with since I was little and it feels so good that we got this season when we thought it might not happen. Once the season did happen, we knew we would get here. Even if it wasn’t the outcome we wanted, it was an overall great season.”
Over the last two seasons that Harrison and Bowers were upperclassmen, they had a combined record of 43-3. That speaks for itself.
Dropping a chance for a state title by two is going to be something the Eagles will think about, but these two seniors were a huge part of Kent City girls basketball history.
“The chemistry this team has is unmatched,” Harrison said. “It was awesome and I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else.”