Germantown — When 6-1 senior guard Malcolm Bowers was younger, he got lessons in how to defend bigger opponents from a source very close at hand.
Home-court, one-on-one games with older brother and former Warhawks point guard Rick Bowers. Lessons in humility and toughness were forthcoming, for as Malcolm is built like a long jumper, all legs and sinew, Rick was built like a fullback, guided by a powerful chest and shoulders.
"He was just so much more physical, but it helped me become tougher and that helped him out a lot this season," Malcolm said.
Yes it did, as Malcolm Bowers became the 24-2 Warhawks indispensable defensive stopper, handling players anywhere from 5-8 to 6-6 in height. How much value did coach Steve Showalter place on Bowers' ability to hold the other team's leading scorer in check and to get to almost every loose ball that hit the court?
Showalter didn't place an amount on it, but let's just say that writing the check would have made Donald Trump blanch.
"I don't think Germantown will see another player of his unique abilities again," Showalter said.
And that's a major reason why Bowers earned a berth on the 2010-11 NOW Newspapers All-Suburban basketball team.
Along with physical toughness, what Bowers also gained this last year, is a new-found confidence. He was also an All-Suburban choice in football this past fall and he entered his third season on the varsity basketball team a more vocal and engaged individual.
"Those first couple of years, I never knew what he was thinking," said Showalter, "and heading into this year, I thought it would be the same way, but then the guys started getting along well and Malcolm started to take a bigger and bigger leadership role."
"You could tell he was having fun, he was laughing and he was competing hard."
Though he averaged 10.6 ppg., and featured a greatly improved array of moves to the basket, it was other things that made Bowers stand out. He led the team in rebounding (159 total), steals (52) and was third in assists (52).
And as noted, he took on all comers defensively, no matter how big they were.
"I think my IQ of the game just improved a lot," he said. "I was able to understand each position and what it does a lot better and that helped on the defensive end. I took it as a challenge every time I was faced with a taller player (to defend). I like challenges and I know it helped the team."
Nicolet coach Paul Hepp conveyed the problem Bowers presented to opponents.
"He was just one of those kids, that if I was playing myself, I would hate having him guard me," Hepp said. "That was such a great luxury they had this year, having a stopper like that."
Bowers didn't see himself as anything special. He just wanted to be part of a good team.
"I also tried to set a good example and show people the way," he said. "I didn't talk a whole lot, but I guess I did it a little more this year." He is thinking about going to Concordia University in Mequon, where other Warhawks athletes have gone, to play both football and basketball.
And he will be missed.
"He was a guy who just quietly went about his job, doing it the best he could," said Showalter.
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