Imagine the pressure.
You are a 17 or 18 year old kid playing in what could be the final basketball game of your high school career if you lose. A head coach from a division I program (in this case Jack Murphy from NAU) who is recruiting you is sitting court-side in a college venue that seats thousands of people.
All things point toward moments like this being too big for a kid, but not Gilbert senior Chris Bowling.
In the final moments of regulation in the Tigers’ quarterfinal matchup with Mesa Mountain View, Chris Bowling three big three point shots. One of which resulted in the game tying three which led to the game to overtime and another was in overtime. Also in the OT, there was no one getting in the 6-6 forward’s way of getting rebounds on the defensive end and then once corralling those rebounds being sent to the foul line where he hit six consecutive free throws to ice the game.
After all that, what speaks volumes of Bowling was that the credit focused solely on what he had just done, but what a team effort it was in the end to come away with the win.
“We just had to come out and execute our game plan,” Bowling told Sports360AZ. “We were struggling a little bit in the first half but we came out in the second half and executed.”
“He’s a gamer, he’s always willing to take the big shot, he always has been,” explained Gilbert head basketball coach Jay Caserio. “But that is not his whole game. He is a tremendous, tremendous teammate. He’d rather see his guys score as hard as that may seem. But it is true, he’d rather see his guys score than him score.”
Bowling has been on the varsity level for a long time and there has been an incremental growth in his game with each passing year. One area that has seen incredible improvement from one year to the next is that jump shot that Coach Caserio speaks of.
“I’ve been trying to develop my game as much as possible and I have been feeling it lately so I am going to let it fly,” Bowling stated.
“They call him a gym rat and he just loves to play the game,” mentioned Caserio. “It doesn’t look like it but he works pretty hard in the weight room. I’ve always said that when he hits that growth spurt physically, he’s going to be a really good player. He has developed all around, shooting is his strength obviously but he guards post for us and is a great leader.”
The fourth seeded Gilbert Tigers are on to the semi-finals finally getting over the hump in the quarterfinals which has plagued them the last few seasons. Sunnyslope is up next and like we saw from Bowling down the stretch of the Mountain View game, he and his teammates just continue playing their game and stay even-keel no matter the circumstance.
“It’s our senior leaders,” said Bowling. “They step up and they keep us under control.”