FENTON, Michigan — The so-called basketball purists out there who lament the loss of pass-first point guard are not getting out to enough Fenton games.
Fenton senior Eric Mowery might be the best game-manager in the Flint area, and although the Fenton coaching staff knew his importance to their team, the point was driven home when they had to play a game without Mowery last week against Lapeer West. Minus Mowery, who missed the game because of a concussion, Fenton played disjointed, they struggled to get into their offense and their defense couldn’t stay in front of Lapeer West point guard Cullen Turczyn. The result was a 15-point loss that dropped Fenton into a tie for first place in the league standings heading into a pivotal week where they had to play both Holly and Swartz Creek, the two teams challenging Fenton for the league title.
But with Mowery back in the lineup, Fenton got through step one, beating Holly 55-44 Tuesday.
And unlike games where Mowery’s impact is more of the intangible kind, against Holly, he was all over the box score too. Mowery scored a season-high 15 points and had 12 assists. He was constantly in the lane, his ball-handling made it hard for Holly to run any pressure and when the defense was giving him room to shoot, he made them pay. Mowery hit two 3-pointers, he had several mid-range pull-ups and he also got all the way to the rim and finished in traffic.
For Mowery, it was a nice opportunity to show that he has an offensive repertoire to go along with his passing and leadership qualities.
“It definitely does feel good (to show that part of his game),” Mowery said. “I know (opposing) coaches tell guys to sag off of me, or focus more on Ryan and Dylan (Hickoff), but when I get the chance, I’ll shoot it.”
Although the scoring certainly gave Fenton a boost, don’t expect Mowery looking for his own shot to become an every-night occurrence.
“I know my role,” Mowery said. “If a shot is there, I’ll take it. But I’m out there to run the offense and get teammates involved.”
Offense, however, wasn’t the only area where Mowery impacted the Holly game. Fenton’s perimeter defense closed out on Holly’s shooters well all night. Holly, a team that shoots and makes a lot of threes, didn’t hit their first three until midway through the fourth quarter. The team’s leading scorer and point guard, Josh Fugate, only had eight points heading into the fourth as Fenton paid a lot of attention to him, although Fugate did get some baskets late to finish with 14.
“We just keep ball pressure on them. Any time they wanted to get a shot up, we wanted to get a hand up,” said Mowery, also noting that having shot-blockers like Charlie Herzog, Dylan Hickoff and Ryan Hickoff behind them allows the perimeter defenders to play tighter defense, knowing that they have help.
Fenton coach Tim Olszewski is concise in his description of Mowery’s impact and ability.
“He’s the best true point guard, throwback point guard, pure point guard, whatever you want to call it, in our league,” Olszewski said.
– By Patrick Hayes | Great Lakes Hoops