Bowsher High School player Cameron White (1) tries to steal the ball from Rogers High School player Cameron Copland (3) during the second quarter of their City League basketball championship game at Waite High School.
Nothing would stop Bowsher from winning the City League boys basketball title on Thursday night at Waite.
Not crosstown rival Rogers, which entered the league championship game with plenty of momentum after a last-second victory against Scott in a City League semifinal.
Not even the absence of the Rebels’ leading scorer, Nate Allen, who was suspended for one game after violating school rules, slowed them down from a season-long push to fulfill what they believe was their destiny since losing in the league final last season.
The Runnin’ Rebels, particularly senior guard Aundre Kizer, put on an offensive display on their way to a decisive 81-65 victory against the Rams.
Kizer pumped in a game-high 33 points, including six 3-pointers, to lead Bowsher to the league title. The 6-foot-1 guard, who was ineligible to play during the first half of the season, scored 22 in the second half when the Rebels went up by as much as 26 points.
“Aundre Kizer is a heck of a player,” Bowsher coach Joe Guerrero said. “We said last year he was our best player. It didn’t work out for him the first semester, but he’s come on, and tonight was his best game. He’s gotten better each game out, which we hoped would happen.”
Kizer drained three of his 3-pointers during a stretch of the third quarter when Bowsher went on a 11-4 spurt. He entered the game looking to step up knowing Allen wasn’t on hand.
“I felt like I was on once we stepped on to the Waite sidewalk,” Kizer said.
Plenty of Rebels had it going on this night.
Dajuan King, celebrating his 18th birthday, scored 19 points, including 13 in the first half to help Bowsher (20-2) lead 42-27 at halftime. Jason Sandridge came off the bench and chipped in 11 points. And Mark Washington added 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Guerrero, who lost in the City League title game a year ago to Start — coached by his brother, Gil — was overtaken by excitement moments after the game, when he leaped into the air to chest-bump King at center court.
“I’m really happy that we got this,” Guerrero said. “I’m mostly happy for my guys because it’s about how hard they worked and how much they wanted it. They’ve been focused all year on the end of the year, and I think it showed.”
Fadil Robinson carried the Rams (11-9) with team highs of 20 points and eight boards. Omari Hicks added 18 points while Cameron Copeland had 11, and Branden Austin 10.
The Rams committed 17 turnovers, including seven during the second quarter, when Bowsher outscored Rogers 22-8. The Rebels didn’t let up after halftime and maintained a double-digit edge.
“Experience took over,” Rogers coach Eal Morris said, referring to Bowsher’s senior-led roster. “They’ve been together for four years. Even their best player wasn’t there, but they’ve still got six or seven people who’ve been playing varsity for four years. We started making mental mistakes, and they started capitalizing on it.”
As much as the Rebels impressed with their offensive prowess — sinking eight 3-pointers and throwing down a couple of crowd-pleasing dunks — they came in thinking defensively.
“We wanted to come in here and play how we know how to play, and that’s playing good defense first,” Kizer said. “We wanted to turn defense into offense and get easy buckets and that’s what we did tonight.”
The Rebels improved to 3-0 this season against the Rams.
However, the last win will be remembered as the most special for the six seniors on the roster.
“We know how it felt last year to come up short, and we didn’t want to do that again,” said White, who left the game with a leg injury that he didn’t think was serious.
The Rebels came out running in the first half. After scoring 20 points in the first quarter, they entered halftime up 42-27.
King had 13 points by halftime, and Kizer added 11.
“There’s no question that we had to speed the game up because they were too big,” Guerrero said. “We didn’t want them to get the ball inside and we really focused on speeding the game up.
“Fortunately we got the game going pretty quick.”