E.J. Bowman beats the buzzer to give Waterford Mott an Oakland County Classic win over shorthanded Grand Blanc
ROCHESTER — Coach David McGlowin drew up the play.
Isaiah Jackson drew the defense.
And E.J. Bowman drew back on the bowstring and launched the buzzer-beating game-winning 3-pointer to beat shorthanded Grand Blanc, 60-57, making his coach look like a prophet, and making Waterford Mott look like the contender everyone thought they might be.
“I told them before the game that E.J. Bowman would hit a 3 to win the game, and it came to fruition. I’m glad I’ve got psychic knowledge,” McGlowin said, tongue in cheek.
The game was the final of four in the Oakland County Classic at Oakland University’s O’rena.
Grand Blanc (6-2) tied the contest at 57-57 with 41.6 seconds left on Jacob Carlson’s two free throws, but Mott (4-2) ran the clock down to 8.4 seconds before calling a timeout to set up the final play.
“He (McGlowin) just told me to take my time, don’t rush the shot, and make sure to get it to my teammates first. Don’t rush anything,” Bowman said, admitting it’s the biggest shot he’s made in his high school career. “The biggest, actually. I’ve never hit a shot to win a game. It feels real good. Never in high school, going against one fo the best teams in the state. I know going into the game, our team was really underrated, especially because we lost our first two games.”
Bowman got the ball to Jackson at the high post, but with the defense crashing down on the five-star future Kentucky Wildcat, Jackson spun the ball back to Bowman on the perimeter, and the senior launched the game-winning shot from the top of the key.
“I knew once I passed it in they were going to get two players to go crash him. My man came from me to double-team him, which left me wide-open. I knew Zeke, the best big man in the country, was going to find me, and pass it to me,” Bowman said, agreeing he didn’t think a whole lot about the shot before it left his hands. “Yeah, usually it’s just instinct, because I know I can shoot that shot, and I know when it’s going to go in. I knew when it left my hands, it was going to go in. I give all praise to Zeke. He could’ve taken that shot — a five-star. Any five-star could’ve taken that shot.”
The Bobcats — who were missing senior Mark Miller (travel) and sophomore star Ty Rogers (flu) — called timeout with 0.2 seconds left to try to answer, but the Corsairs picked off the inbound pass to end it.
Damarion Bonds hit a 3 to put Mott ahead 57-55 with 55 seconds left, but Carlson tied it with a pair of free throws. Kevin Rice’s 3-pointer with 1:37 left got Grand Blanc within one, and Connor Williams was credited with a go-ahead layup on a goaltend, putting the Bobcats up 55-54.
The game was tied at 43-43 headed into the fourth quarter, after Carlson hit a short jumper in the final seconds of the third, completing a Grand Blanc rally after Mott had ripped off the first nine points of the second half. Mott scored the first six points of the fourth quarter, as well.
Mott led 15-9 after one quarter, but Nate Brown’s pull-up jumper in the lane with less than 10 seconds left in the first half gave the Bobcats a 28-27 lead at the break.
“I don’t know. We’ve gotta clean that up, because we seem to do that a lot now,” McGlowin said. “We seem to jump out to a good start in quarters, and then we’ll let a team get back in by not playing solid basketball.”
Rice led all scorers with 20 points for Grand Blanc, while Williams and Carlson had 12 each. Bowman had 14 to lead four Mott scorers in double digits, followed by Daqaveon Washington with 13, Jackson with 11 and Bonds with 10.
It’s taken a bit of time for the Corsairs to figure out how to work with their star center, and vice-versa.
“Coming in, a lot of people thought he was going to take all the shots, but he’s actually a pass-first center,” Bowman said. “We all knew that if he’s got the ball, we’ve gotta cut off of him, and he’ll get it to us.”
His coach agreed that it has been a work in progress.
“At the beginning of the year, you could tell they didn’t know where the big guy liked the ball, where to throw him the ball. As we go along, they’re starting to get it. He didn’t play the first two, and we lost those. You can just tell when he steps on the floor he gives our guys a certain aura, a certain confidence about themselves,” McGlowin said of Jackson. “He’s so unselfish. He’s one of the most humble, unselfish kids that are that big. You can tell in his game, he’s not trying to force anything. He just plays with his teammates, and tries to give them all confidence.”