By Craig Beilfuss
EAST LANSING — Kent City guard Lexi Bowers rebounded from a dismal shooting performance in Tuesday night’s quarterfinal round and led the Eagles back to the Division 3 MHSAA state girls championship game.
Bowers scored a game-high 22 points as Kent City cruised to a 47-30 victory over Madison Heights Bishop Foley. Bowers hit five 3-pointers in the contest.
The game was played at the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State University.
Bowers also grabbed four rebounds. Guard Maddie Geers, a sophomore chipped in with a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Senior Taryn Preston tossed in seven points and grabbed nine rebounds.
As has been the case all season, the Eagles relied on the guard duo of Bowers and Geers throughout the Friday afternoon contest.
Bowers got off to a hot start in the opening quarter with seven points. Kent City led 10-6 after one quarter.
“The first half offense really worked for us ,” Kent City coach Aleah Holcomb said. “We came out with a bang.”
Bowers, Geers and Preston accounted for all of the Kent City second-quarter points as the Eagles put some distance between themselves and the Ventures. A 20-7 scoring advantage gave the Eagles a commanding 30-13 halftime lead.
Kent City hit four 3-point baskets, three by Bowers and one by Preston. Bowers scored nine points in the quarter, followed by Geers with six and Preston with five.
Bowers was certain their recent high-pressure games made the difference.
“I perform a lot better under pressure,” said Bowers. “The main difference today was confidence. I had confidence in every shot that I took today and was much more comfortable than Tuesday night. It was good to make the lead bigger in the second quarter.
“I got some good looks I think because their defense was not as intense as Schoolcraft’s,” she said. “It definitely made scoring easier for us and it helped our offense.”
Both teams came out sluggish in the third period. It was the only quarter of the game where the Ventures held the upper hand by a scoring margin of 10-6, Despite that result, the Eagles had a 36-23 lead heading into the final quarter.
Any chance of Madison Heights comeback were quickly dashed by Bowers and Geers.
Bowers hit a basket to open the fourth quarter, then followed that with a rare four-point play. Geers followed that up with a 3-point play and the Eagles had an 18-point lead at 45-23 and cruised to the 17-point win.
Bowers is looking forward to a return trip to the state finals.
“Last year I was nervous,” Bowers said. “Now I’ve got three games of experience here at the Breslin under my belt.
“I think “YP (Ypsilanti Arbor) has a really good offense, but I think our defense is the toughest one out there,” Bowers said “We’ll come ready to play with passion and determination on Saturday.”
“This is different from a coaching standpoint because now I am the one making the final choices,” said Holcomb, the Eagles’ first-year head coach.
Madison Heights (20-4) was led by sophomore Ryan Moorer with seven points.
Next up for unbeaten Kent City is Ypsilanti Arbor Prep, which got past Maple City Glen Lake in the first semifinal game of the day, 57-44.
The Gators (24-2) play an independent schedule.
“Arbor Prep has great on-ball intensity,” Holcomb said. “They have quite a few girls that can score offensively, so we’ll have to be ready defensively. We’ll play for the win.”
The game is set for 4 p.m. Saturday at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.