The Times West Virginian

Prep Sports

December 25, 2013

County teams use youth to spark early success

(Continued)

FAIRMONT — oooooo

Fairmont Senior’s Erica Bowles is just a freshman, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that if you watched her play.

The 5-foot-6 guard is one of many young talents on the Polar Bears’ roster, but coach Corey Hines knows he has a special player.

“She’s a very special kid but I didn’t expect for her to do some of the stuff she’s doing now,” Hines said. “She amazed me.”

Hines recalls coaching Bowles over the summer and in the fall before the real season kicked off, and he knew from the way she practiced that she had great potential.

“She came in and worked real hard but you never really know how a player is gonna play when the lights are on, but she did real well in the summer league,” the coach said. “The thing about her that surprised me the most is in those big moments, she’s not scared.”

Bowles proved that by dropping 20 points in a win over then-No. 2 North Marion early in the season.

But even though the freshman guard is averaging 13.0 points per game, Hines said it’s her ability to recognize that she can improve that makes her special.

The coach said that during a game over the summer, he drew up a play for Bowles to hit an important shot late in the game. She missed the shot, but how she responded let him know that she would go on to be a great player.

“She went home after that with her dad and shot about 200-300 jump shots,” Hines said.

Hines knows he has a plethora of young players who can step up, naming Abby Stoller and Coly Thorne alongside Bowles, and that helps his confidence as a coach when his older players go down.

But with Bowles, the way she’s been stepping up on and off the court has really impressed the coach.

“She’ll go home from practice and her dad said he’ll have to go out in the cold and he’ll have to rebound while she shoots,” he said. “She’s not just a player in the gym; she’s a player outside the gym.”

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