Balance is key for Canyon hoops’ Bowers

Canyon’s Rachel Bowers (44) scores against Newbury Park during the CIF-Southern Section Division 2AA finals at the Richard and Vivian Felix Event Center in Azusa last year. Dan Watson/The Signal

Before playing basketball for Canyon High, Rachel Bowers rode horses.

It was something her older sister, Dana, did, so naturally she wanted to pursue it, too. Dana also played basketball for Canyon and eventually became an All-Foothill League selection, so when the younger Bowers was old enough, she did the same.

“They’re very different,” Rachel, an All-CIF selection last year as a sophomore, says of the two activities. “I guess they’re the same because you need balance, but different — you’re dealing with a 1,000 pound animal and then you’re dealing with five people.”

Balance has been key for Bowers in her athletic career.

The 6-foot-3 center has what can’t be taught: size. Being tall doesn’t necessarily equate to being a good basketball player, but Bowers is both.

Rebounds look effortless and putting the ball through the hoop is merely a toss. She’s averaging 9.8 rebounds per game and 11.9 points per game. And her potential has yet to be reached.

“(It’s just) getting her to use those weapons that she possesses all the time,” says coach Jessica Haayer. “Because she likes to pick and choose when she uses them, and she could use them all the time. She has so much growing to do.”

An underlying skill that Bowers has always possessed is her smarts. Aside from an older sister who played basketball, Bowers’ father (who is 6-5) played the game and her mother (5-11) played volleyball. Evidence for the argument that athletic intelligence is genetic.

Being tall is an added advantage when it comes to developing a vision for the game, too.

“Being tall, you get to see everything because you’re above everything height-wise,” Bowers says. “It’s helpful looking up the court and seeing the options. If the point guard has the ball up top and I see that someone is open, I try and let them know that they’re open.”

That last part — communicating with the team — is something that Bowers has been steadily improving on.

She’s a little on the quiet side and certainly doesn’t have an intense personality off the hardwood. Haayer has been pushing her to become more daring, whether it’s shouting plays to teammates or shooting 3-pointers.

“She’s really come around,” said Haayer. “She’s yelling at people, which is something we’ve been begging her to do. This year she’s really turned a new leaf and had become a leader.

“People look to her to do things, tell them where to go, what to do, and we look for her a lot in tough situations and game situations.”

Bowers is the rim protector. Her presence in games gives teammates an added sense of security.

“She’s always available,” said junior forward Selasi Mawugbe. “If you’re trapped, you know that she’s there. She’s easy to look for. And she has a really good understanding of the game. She knows where to go, how to get open and when to get open.”

Perfect basketball balance is in sight, as Bowers fine-tunes the right combination of skill and size. But, of course, there is always room to grow.

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