Donny Bowen’s worst nightmare came true just three weeks into his senior basketball season at Woodmore.
Bowen, a first-team All-Northern Buckeye Conference and all-district pick last season, was just coming off a fractured left leg he suffered late in the soccer season last fall when he went up for a rebound in practice and came down on a teammate’s foot.
Bowen initially thought he’d just sprained his foot, but it was much worse. He had broken the outside part of his left foot.
“It broke straight through,” said Bowen, who missed the Wildcats’ next five games while he went to rehab for his foot and wore a walking boot. “It was pretty rough. I haven’t been injured in basketball ever before. Senior year, you want to go out with a bang and then you get sidelined for a while. It’s tough mentally, and taxing, especially when you sit the first part of basketball with a broken leg and then have to sit another four weeks.”
The 6-foot-3 Bowen, a three-year starter, was averaging 23.5 points and 12.5 rebounds through Woodmore’s first four games. He missed the next five games and has been in and out of the lineup since then because of the injured foot and a sudden recurring back ailment.
“From being in the boot with my broken foot, it shifted my hips,” Bowen said of his sore back. “My spine and hips weren’t lined up. Now I just go to physical therapy; this is the best I’ve felt for a while.”
Bowen is averaging 16.8 points and 9.1 rebounds since returning from his foot injury.
“He hasn’t been 100 percent since after the first four games of the season,” Woodmore coach Brad Sander said. “He’s had some pretty severe back issues that have slowed him down. He goes when he can. It’s been a struggle at times for him. He’s the most competitive person I’ve been around as a coach.”
Bowen will be on the court for the Wildcats (9-12, 6-7 NBC) on Friday when they host Elmwood in their regular-season finale. The ‘Cats face Western Reserve in the Division III sectional tournament Feb. 26 at Sandusky High School.
Junior Erich Greulich stepped into Bowen’s spot in the starting lineup when Bowen injured his foot.
“When Donny was out, it gave not just Erich but several other guys a chance to get more minutes,” Sander said. “You try to take positives out of every tough situation. It got those guys more minutes than they would have gotten, and they stepped up their offensive production.”
Starters Jake Lewandowski, a co-captain along with Bowen, Matt Haar, Brad Flick and Drew Speaker adjusted as best they could with Bowen sidelined. Sander said the Wildcats have also gotten contributions from Phil Thorbahn, Harrison Wooten and Dan Sprinski.
“We did see a lot of good things from those guys,” the coach said. “Since Donny’s come back and been able to play a little here and there, we’re at our best. We’re getting everybody involved. Now that guys have had a chance to perform on their own, they’re confident in their abilities and we’re not so reliant on Donny like we were early in the year.”
Bowen needed 378 points this season to reach 1,000 for his career. Now, that will only happen if Woodmore makes a deep tournament run.
“It was a goal,” Bowen said, “but there’s nothing I can really do about it. I’ve done what I could, missing games and not being healthy all season. When I first found out I wasn’t going to get there, or it was unlikely, I said what’s the next thing that can happen but to play as much high school basketball as I can and do whatever’s needed for the team to chalk up some more W’s.”
Bowen admitted it has been difficult missing games and not being able to play at 100 percent for most of his senior season.
“My mindset wasn’t so much that I knew I could have done that or done this better,” he said. “It was, now you can’t be out there to help, so you have to help in a different way. I have to try to be the emotional leader now and everybody has to be confident and our goals are the same.”
Even after suffering leg, foot and back injuries during his senior year, Bowen said he’s never felt snakebit.
“I would rather have it happen to me than somebody else,” said Bowen, who hopes to be accepted into the United States Air Force Academy. “I would rather have it happen to me than have a teammate have to deal with it. Everybody on the team works hard. All athletes work hard at their respective sports. It’s the risk you take when you sign up to play. You just have to move on.”
Woodmore senior Donny Bowen drives to the basket as Genoa sophomore Amos Kauder defends. (Press photo by Dean Utendorf/WoodmorePhotos.com)
Donny Bowen goes to the basket in Woodmore’s 96-61 victory at Genoa. (Press photo by Dean Utendorf/WoodmorePhotos.com)