PITSBURG – Mississinawa Valley has been the surprise team so far this year in Darke County basketball.
After starting out 0-2, the Blackhawks won five games in a row before falling in the first round of the Jet Holiday Tournament to Franklin Monroe.
The Hawks rebounded with a win over Arcanum in the consolation game and now stand at 6-3 overall and 3-1 in the Cross County Conference. Much of that success can be attributed to the leadership and overall play of senior guard Ethan Bowman.
Bowman drove into the middle of the lane and while twisting his body between two defenders scooped in a one-handed layup to record his 999th and 1,000th career points in the Jet Holiday Tournament consolation game versus Arcanum on Saturday.
Bowman is a humble young man and was reflective after the game on reaching the milestone and was honored to be up there with some of the greats who have played before him at Mississinawa.
In fact, Bowman is just the fourth Hawk to eclipse the mark.
Curtis Enis is the all-time career scoring leader with 1,773 points followed by Russ Willis with 1,199 and Jerry Liles with 1,001. Bowman now at 1,020 will more than likely move into the second spot before the season is over.
“It’s super cool to reach the mark. Not many have done it before me,” Bowman said.
“It was something in the back of my mind, and I’ve thought about this since my freshman year. I knew before the game I was close to the mark and kept telling myself, Ethan, just play your game … but you can’t help but think about it,” Bowman said.
Bowman, who is over an 80 percent free throw shooter, would go an uncharacteristic 2-for-6 from the line in the first quarter.
“It got in my head … but once I got the bucket to reach 1,000 points, Coach (Tim Barga) shook my hand and said, ‘Now just go out and let it flow,’ after that the only thing I could think about was winning the game,” Bowman said.
The Hawks did just that and Bowman led the way, scoring 24 points, and added five steals, six assists and eight rebounds in a 49-47 win over Arcanum.
“We won five in a row and lost last night to FM. I wanted to make sure we came out tonight and got back on track,” Bowman said.
“I’m so glad to see our guys go hard and rebound the way we did to get this win. We have a lot of young guys on the team, and our sophomores are starting to step up. We’re playing pretty good right now as a team.”
“Coach tells us all the time no one has a high scoring average. When you win games and everyone has similar averages, it means we are playing as a team, and that sometimes is when you have your best teams.”
Bowman is a competitor first and foremost, and he wants to win, no matter if it’s one on one, or as a team.
“Coming in as a freshman I was the new kid on the block, and I really wanted to beat everyone, but I also wanted to be with them and win with them as a team,” Bowman said.
His game started to take shape his sophomore year and he credits Coach Barga for that development … but also credits the influence of former play Devin Rinderle as well.
“Devin probably had the biggest influence on me as a player. He really changed his game from sophomore to his senior year to become a true leader and did what our team needed with his all-around game. He didn’t have a huge scoring average and we had a good season and a good showing in the tournament. It showed me if you are a good all-around player you can help your team win games, and he was recognized as an all-state player,” Bowman said.
Anyone who watches Bowman can see the young man has a similar game to that of Rinderle. He can pick your pocket, drive to the basket, score at the rim and creates open looks for teammates with superb passing. The one area Bowman exceeds is his ability to hit the outside shot; he has come up clutch with a couple of game winners already this year.
“Ethan could easily go out and score for a high average … but he is so competitive and all he thinks about is beating you and how to best accomplish that,” Barga said.
“When he walks into the gym he goes hard 100 percent of the time and work on everything he needs to work on, and the results speak for themselves,” Barga said.
“He is leading our team in all categories, seven rebounds, six assists, five steals and 17 points per game. I’m sure he will be in the top 10 in all those categories when his career is done at Mississinawa. That is testament to his total team approach and why he is the leader of this team,” Barga said.
“Not only is Ethan an excellent basketball player, he’s an excellent kid,” Barga concluded.