Some may have been surprised two years ago when Kalvin Bowen, then a little-known sophomore guard at Idaho Falls High, took over the 4A District 5-6 championship game against No. 1 seed Preston and helped lead the Tigers to an upset win and a berth into the 4A state tournament.
Bowen never expected it. But Idaho Falls head boys basketball coach Howard Hart saw the potential of his young player and put him on the court with a senior-laden lineup poised to make a postseason run. That group had big goals and wasn’t about to suffer the growing pains of a sophomore point guard.
They didn’t have to worry as Bowen proved his worth.
“He was kind of the piece we needed to have,” Hart said, recalling the team’s run through the district tournament to its first state semifinals appearance since 1999. “He took it upon himself to develop and grow throughout the season and learn from the older kids about how the varsity game is played and how he could improve his skills.”
Two years later, Bowen isn’t surprising anyone. As the team’s senior leader, he can score, dish off to teammates, rebound and take over a game if needed with his dribble penetration. Opponents know his skills and typically make it their game plan to stop the I.F. player in the No. 3 jersey.
“My sophomore year, I probably got about three shots a game up,” Bowen said after a recent practice. “I was still a little intimidated and scared (playing with the seniors on varsity). Now I get a lot more shots up. I'm still able to help my teammates get open and find their shots, but back then it was a one-sided game; pass the ball and get everyone else involved.”
If the Tigers are going to make another trip to the state tournament this season, they’ll have to get through another tough district tournament. Due to the latest classification cycle, they are no longer conference opponents with Preston, but Bowen could be one of the key players to watch when the postseason begins in February.
“We just have to stay confident and know what we can bring to the court every night,” Bowen said.
Bowen averages 14 points 3.93 rebounds per game. He’s also averaging 3.4 assists. One aspect to his game that may not have been a strong part of his repertoire two years ago is the ability to know when to attack the basket and when to pass out to an open teammate.
“He's very conscious about getting others involved in the game,” Hart said. “He is more of a distributor this year than last year. That’s part of the maturation that he's going through as a basketball player.”
Five other Tiger players average at least five points per game, with Braxton Ball averaging 8.5 points, Paul Wilson scoring nearly 10, and Kenylon Clark at 7.4.
“Whatever needs to be done, he does it,” Hart said. “And I’m not sure he’s totally scratched the surface."