Sunday, May 27, 2018
Sports

Cotey: Bowman makes Berkeley Prep better

Back in November, Craig Bowman wasn't where the conversation about Tampa Bay's best points guards started.

But in March, he may be where it ends.

The Berkeley Prep senior will lead his Bucs (27-3) into the Lakeland Center today for a Class 4A state semifinal against Lake Highland Prep, looking to cap a breakout season with a state title.

"I think I've surprised a lot of people this year," said Bowman, the Bucs' floor general. "When I saw I wasn't ranked in the top 25 players this year, it kind of hurt me. I wanted to prove I belonged in that group."

And he has.

His numbers are up. He is averaging more assists and steals than he did last year. But his ability to increase his points per game from 10 to 15.4 helped the Bucs weather a storm of injuries.

Chris McWilliams, a starting guard last year, was already out when the season started. When starting forward Marshall Holmes (14 points per game last season) went down and missed 17 games, Bowman didn't need to look any farther than the mirror to find a guy willing to rise to the challenge.

"When he went down, it totally changed my mind-set," Bowman said.

What impressed Berkeley Prep coach Bobby Reinhart even more, however, was that Bowman remained a defensive force despite raising his offensive game. At 6-foot-3 with long, rangy arms, he was able to turn a good many of his 88 steals into points.

"Craig is just a type of kid that has to be on the floor for us to be successful," he said. "What he does on the defensive end is equally as good, if not better in my opinion, than what he's done on offense."

• • •

Bowman, whose younger brother Jalen played a few games for Lakewood's final four team but spent most of his time on junior varsity, lives in St. Petersburg with his mother.

He played on the same nationally-ranked AAU team as current Spartan Anthony Lawrence Jr., Gibbs standout Barry Brown and St. Petersburg Division I signee Dayon Griffin.

He said choosing not to follow his boyhood friends to school in St. Petersburg, and instead waking up at 5 a.m. many mornings to get to Berkeley Prep early enough to shoot around before class, was a tough decision, but one he doesn't regret.

"When I came here to look at the campus, I fell in love with it," he said. "I wanted to take a different approach, try something new."

While Lawrence, Brown and Griffin have gone on to grab more headlines in Pinellas County, Bowman's father, Craig Sr. — a 1991 Gibbs graduate and former basketball player who now lives in Tampa — has been happy to see his son finally grab a few of his own.

"I felt he was a little overlooked, but he was patient with it," Craig Sr. said. "I've watched him develop this year and gain more confidence. He's put in a lot of hard work, I'm proud to see it pay off."

And Bowman is quick to point out, with a chuckle, that he has never lost in 10 games against St. Petersburg high school teams, including wins this season over his former AAU teammates at Lakewood and Gibbs.

But he'd trade all 10 for two wins in Polk County this week, and the Bucs appear to be hitting their stride.

Holmes has back-to-back 22-point games, Justin Gray scored 20 with 12 rebounds in the region championship, and N'Namdi Green and Jacob Mathis has been forces down low.

They have been battle tested at the prestigious Kingdom of the Sun, where Bowman was named all-Tournament, and have beaten Tampa Prep, Lakewood and Shorecrest, three other final four teams.

"We have had a good season," Bowman said, "and we have a chance to make it something special."

John C. Cotey can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JohnnyHomeTeam.

Comments
Rick Stroud’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Orioles game

Rick Stroud’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Orioles game

So the team that just got back from a 10-day, 11-game road trip in three time zones is headed back out west for Memorial Day? The Rays travel to Oakland, Calif., Seattle and Washington, D.C. It's the first time they visited the West Coast on back-to-...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Martin Fennelly: A column to match Rays’ upside-down pitching

Martin Fennelly: A column to match Rays’ upside-down pitching

  In the spirit of the Rays' topsy-turvy pitching alignments, last goes first in this column. Go to the end to start reading. "The buy-in that we get, the buy-in to each other, and the team effort has been really fun to be part of to this point," C...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Rays journal: Reliever Austin Pruitt pitches nearly six scoreless innings for first save

Rays journal: Reliever Austin Pruitt pitches nearly six scoreless innings for first save

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays RHP Austin Pruitt has started and worked out of the bullpen, in both short and long relief.But he did not expect to pick up his second career save Sunday by having to log 5⅔ innings, allowing only three hits whi...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
Rays bats come alive with six-run rally to beat Orioles 8-3

Rays bats come alive with six-run rally to beat Orioles 8-3

ST. PETERSBURG — If you think the Rays are holding their pitching staff together with baling wire, duct tape and an overbooked shuttle to Triple-A Durham, a bigger story might be how their bats keep producing runs no matter who is swinging them...
Updated: 1 hour ago
For starters: Rays RHP Sergio Romo opens the game for the second time in 48 hours vs. Orioles

For starters: Rays RHP Sergio Romo opens the game for the second time in 48 hours vs. Orioles

ST. PETERSBURG – Speaking of openers, the Rays will start RHP Sergio Romo (1-1, 4.66 ERA) for the fourth time this season, the second time in 48 hours vs. the Orioles. The 35-year-old Romo did not make it out of the first inning Friday, allowin...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Rays’ closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Rays’ closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays have had to get creative in how they start games. Now, after Friday's trade of closer Alex Colome, they might have to get creative in how they finish them.How they handle the ninth inning going forward will be a fluid ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegas’ birth-to-best story?

Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegas’ birth-to-best story?

What in the name of the 0-26 Bucs is going on here?The breathtaking Vegas Golden Knights are the greatest expansion team in professional sports history. They are the best (or worst) thing to ever happen to our games, having won 51 times during the re...
Published: 05/26/18
Updated: 05/27/18
Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

THE BASEBALL LABORATORY IN ST. PETERSBURG — Up is down. Down is up. Hello is goodbye. Goodbye is hello. A reliever is a starter. A starter is a reliever.These are your 2018 Tampa Bay Rays.You never know what's going to happen. And just when you...
Published: 05/26/18
Updated: 05/27/18
Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says he’s retiring from football

Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says he’s retiring from football

Former Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman, who was trying to resurrect his career with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, said Saturday that he is retiring from football.Freeman, 30, was a first-round draft pick of the Bucs in 2009 and was their starting ...
Published: 05/26/18
Thomas Bassinger’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Orioles game

Thomas Bassinger’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Orioles game

Interesting decision by the Rays to start RH reliever Ryne Stanek on Saturday. The Orioles' Nos. 1 through 5 hitters were righties, and Stanek came in allowing a 1.228 OPS against righties and a .592 OPS against lefties. It ended up working.How ...
Published: 05/26/18