Lake’s father and son corner top basketball honors
When you walk into Ryan and Tony’s Barber Shop in Millbury, you will find seven local school mascots painted on the wall by artist Deano Davis.
Lake basketball coach Ryan Bowen, who co-owns the shop with Tony Meadows, can now add another plaque to his wall — the Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Coach of the Year.
It is Bowen’s fourth straight AMJ All-Press COY honor, which was bestowed on him once again by voting from 10 area coaches and 10 area media members.
|Ryan Bowen||Jared Rettig||Jacob Schmeltz||Luke Rightnowar||Austin Adams|
As a matter of fact, Coach Bowen has been the Lake head coach for only four years, so he has never been at the helm without receiving the award. The last time a different coach received the honor was in 2009-10 when it went to former Eastwood coach Todd Henline.
However, this year Coach Bowen gets to add a fifth plaque to the wall — his son, Lake six foot tall junior point guard Connor Bowen, is All-Press Player of the Year.
Connor, the reigning Northern Buckeye Conference POY, averaged 22.4 points, 8.4 assists, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.2 steals in leading the Flyers to a 21-2 season and league championship.
"Connor has been tremendous for us this season," Coach Bowen said. "He is an extension of our coaching staff on the court. He makes things easy for us coaches. He brings an enormous amount of energy every practice and is our guy to run all of our offenses. His experience over his freshman and sophomore years is definitely paying off."
At one time this season, the Flyers were ranked fourth by the Associated Press in Division II statewide voting, sandwiched between state final four qualifier Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary and regional semi-finalist Dayton Dunbar, both perennial powers.
Lake’s season came to an abrupt end at the hands of defending Division I state runner-up, Rogers, in a 94-74 sectional final shootout at Clay. Their only other loss was to league foe Eastwood during the regular season.
In the last two years, the Flyers have established themselves as a premier team in the NBC. Last year, Connor Bowen, Jayce Vancena, Marcus Pierce and company went 19-4 and just missed winning their second straight league title, falling to Eastwood, 61-60, in the final game of the regular season. Connor was a first team All-Press choice as a sophomore, averaging 14.2 points and 8.1 assists.
During the 2011-12 season, NBC and All-Press POY Rashad Smith (19.2 pts.) and Josh Tantari led the club to a 17-6 record, a share of the inaugural NBC title and advanced to the D-III district finals.
Lake's record over the last three years is a combined 57-12 (.826) and 35-7 in the conference, tops in the NBC.
Like any successful program, Coach Bowen plays a role in building a strong foundation.
"It's been easy for us so far to transition from year to year with the talent we have been blessed with," Bowen said. "Every year we take the kids down south to a summer camp that is very intense and it's a great way for our team to bond. If you're not tough, you will struggle. And our kids have bought into that, and we feel they really look forward to competing in (camp). The first year, we brought nine kids down, and the number continues to grow. We had 24 kids attend (last) year.
"And we've had a lot of success with our middle school teams, placing a team in the championship game for four straight years. So we have some really good coaches working hard for us, understanding what we want accomplished at the younger levels. I have been lucky to have such great coaches to work with since I became head coach."
Ryan’s staff includes assistant coach Joel Jackon, junior varsity coach Craig Clark ninth grade coach Mike Moon, eighth grade coach Chris Clark, and seventh grade coach Dean Cowell, and the team’s trainer is Carissa Russell. The varsity staff, including Bowen, all sported beards this year for the first time.
Ryan and Connor were overwhelming favorites for the All-Press top honors among the 20 voters. For COY, Ryan received all but five votes, with three went to Eastwood coach Matt Routson. The other two were split between Gibsonburg coach Brent Liskai and Stritch coach Dave Reiker.
For POY, Connor received all but three votes, which went to Waite 6-4 senior guard Taywyn Mason, Clay 6-1 senior guard Patricc Booth, and Cardinal Stritch Catholic 6-5 junior guard/forward Austin Adams.
Connor is joined by teammate Jared Rettig, a 6-2 junior guard on the All-Press first team, and joining them are Adams, Eastwood 6-1 senior guard Jacob Schmeltz, and Genoa 6-2 junior wing Luke Rightnowar.