Kent City senior girls aim for perfect run to state basketball title

High School Preps

The Kent City girls basketball team in a huddle. (Andrew McDonald/WOOD TV8)

KENT CITY, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kent City girls basketball team knows how to win.

The last time the program had a losing season was 2009-10. Since then, there hasn’t been a team with more than five losses. The 2020-21 team, led by a pair of seniors who can shoot the lights out, is looking for perfection.

With its remaining regular season games canceled due to COVID-19 numbers among Michigan High School Athletic Association member teams, Kent City is 15-0 and looking to take an undefeated run all the way to a state title game.

On Tuesday, the Eagles finished a season sweep of Morley-Stanwood in a 68-36 blowout and earned another Central State Activities Association title.

For senior leader Kenzie Bowers, it’s a blessing this team got the chance to show off what it can do when there was uncertainty due to the pandemic.

“There was times we were thinking we weren’t going to play this year so that makes it so exciting,” Bowers said. “This team is special, we can knock down a lot of shots and it’s been fun winning games like (Morley-Stanwood).”

The Iowa State commit isn’t kidding when she says the team can knock down shots. In 15 games, the Eagles have outscored their opponents by an average of 39.7 points. Those are numbers you don’t see every season.

This senior class has only lost two of the 39 games its played over the past two seasons and who knows how much better its numbers would be if it wasn’t for the pandemic. 

Fellow senior Jenna Harrison, who is also one of the team’s top scorers, says the reason her teammates play so well together starts with the chemistry they’ve built on the floor.

“We all can shoot so if we see somebody open on the wing, we will make that pass and if we see someone else is open, we make another pass,” Harrison said. “Knowing that anyone can make their shots on any given night makes it a lot more fun when it goes in.”

Morley-Stanwood gave the Eagles a good battle in a 43-32 defeat in an early March matchup. This time around, the Eagles made adjustments. They started the game on a 21-8 run and never let the Mohawks comeback.

“We talked about the last game and we felt like it was all mental,” Harrison said. “We fixed those mistakes and you saw what we did on the court.”

With its nearly 40-point differential against opponents, the Eagles are always playing with a lead. Because there is no shot clock in the MHSAA, keeping an edge can be difficult. For Bowers, it’s all about the cultural mentality this program has built.

“At any time, (opponents) could catch back up with us,” Bowers said. “We can’t let our guard down and we have to keep going regardless of the score or time left in the game.”

Head coach Scott Carlson said that is just one of the traits that makes this team so special. 

“Seniors are always special because they have so much experience and know how to lead,” Carlson said. “However, this group really knows how to lead. They are not only phenomenal players but great people, which goes a long way.”

While winning the CSAA championship for an eighth consecutive year feels good for the Eagles, it’s also expected at this point. Kent City hasn’t lost a conference game since the 2015-16 campaign and even then finished 9-1 in league play.

Now, this senior class and team want their shot at the Breslin Center and a state title. Before the pandemic shut things down early last season, the Eagles suffered a crushing three-point loss to Pewamo-Westphalia in the playoffs a year ago.

But with a perfect season so far, there’s no reason to think the Eagles can’t reach their goal.

“We are just hoping the winning doesn’t stop because we want that state championship,” Bowers said. “If we keep playing like this, it’s looking like we have a chance to do just that.”

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