ALBRIGHT: Big Reds’ Kristen Lowers can answer the call in 2019-20
Fans should take a moment to re-adjust when in attendance of a Parkersburg High girls’ basketball game this season.
Some things are going to feel a little weird.
Where is Mary Ostrowski Award winner Shay-Lee Kirby one might ask?
She’s playing NCAA Divison I basketball at Austin Peay.
What about Ohio commit Madi Mace?
She’s in Athens learning the D-I Bobcats’ system.
Where are two stout defensive contributors and the combined 25-35 points per night for Parkersburg High’s girls basketball coach Scott Cozzens?
Well, they simply won’t be there.
Hm? Who is the young lady showing her love for the House of Pain song “Jump Around” on defense? Remember PHS and West Virginia University great Lori Lowers?
It is her daughter Kristen.
Her steal in the third quarter of the state title game partly turned the tide against the University Hawks.
“I just had a feeling they were going to run the play they did,” Kristen said of a play in the third quarter.
There is a good reason I referred to her as a mini-Kirby. Then, I doubled down by saying she would be fun to watch mature on the basketball court.
What? You don’t think she is going to replace everything lost? Have you been watching this basketball team the last few seasons?
It certainly wouldn’t be the first time during the last few campaigns an underclassman left her mark.
Need her to get in to the lane and to the bucket? Check.
Need her to play great defense and score 10 to 15 points a night? Check.
Need her to shoot a 3-pointer and act like an upperclassman? Check.
We will have to wait and see.
Alleviations of pain though sure sound nice after losing the school’s all-time leading scorer (Kirby) and the heir apparent in two fast swoops.
Quick bonds with the upperclassmen apply more salve to the wounds.
“She has a great group of girls to pressure her to help her stay where she got last season,” said Lori.
Dynamite introductions generated this optimism.
And there were plenty of TNT detonations in 2018.
Mostly all of them were unexpected, but challenges accepted.
Arguments from the freshman to Cozzens would have fallen on deaf ears, anyway.
Sitting in the midst of a second straight state championship hunt down two big pieces?
Cue the spotlight in about as big a moment as one can get playing for PHS.
Was it fair?
Maybe not. Five minutes of varsity time rarely prepares one for the great-at-their-job Psychos inside a loaded Rod Oldham Athletic Center.
Lights. Camera. Air ball?
“I had to get the jitters out,” said Lowers reflecting with a chuckle back on the situation.
One miss just a mere blip on the radar.
“I noticed a couple practices before the South game she seemed to have a pretty good grasp on what we were doing defensively and I put her in there and she started playing really well,” said Cozzens.
Indeed, she did play well. Did you expect anything less from the daughter of a Mountaineer great?
Queue Superman’s theme song later in the same game. Though you may not have heard it over all the noise.
The great defensive play against the Hawks had a blueprint.
It was not a bird or a plane flying toward the basketball but Lowers, who made a great read.
Her leaping interception of the game-winning steal magnificently complemented teammate Maddi Leggett’s late free throws.
Game. Set. Match.
Lowers’ 11 points also provided a strong foundation.
Simply look at the rest of her season for proof.
Confidence snowballed from the W at South. Regular turns in the rotation were the new normal. Cozzens couldn’t keep her off the court anymore than hot fudge away from a sundae.
Not just anyone gets on the floor for the state championship game, afterall.
One spot in the starting line-up may follow.
“I definitely have stepped up expectations for myself since Shay left,” she said. “I want to be the defensive player she was.”
If she doesn’t get the starting spot?
“I am good,” she said. “If coach Cozzens needs me to do something on the court I am going to do it.”
Well said, young lady.
Contact Joe Albright at firstname.lastname@example.org.