• Michigan

Lorne Bowman drops 28, as Orchard Lake St. Mary’s rallies past 7-time CHSL champ U-D Jesuit to win 1st league title since ’08

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, March 1, 2020, 12:22 am

DETROIT — Sometimes, you have to forgive Superman, if he gets his cape caught in the door of the telephone booth.

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s version of a super hero, Mr. Basketball finalist Lorne Bowman II, spent much of the first half of Saturday’s Catholic High School League Bishop Division championship game trying to unstick his cape, before soaring off to 20 second-half points.

His 28-point night led the Eaglets to a come-from-behind, 61-54, win over seven-time defending CHSL champ Detroit U-D Jesuit at Calihan Hall, earning OLSM its first Catholic League title since 2008. 

“It feels good, just really refreshing. They’ve knocked us out the past years, ever since I’ve been at St. Mary’s, so it just feels good to be able to knock them off, and be able to take home this trophy,” Bowman said, clutching the hardware to his chest while he was being interviewed. “When you play a team three times, they’re going to come to play the third time, I’m telling you. Just hats off to them for playing an amazing game. Just the teams we played earlier in the season, we were able to be ready for times like this.”

It took a major rally for the Eaglets (18-1) to rally past the Cubs (12-7), who had extended a five-point halftime lead to 12 points midway through the third. 

“I don’t think anything changed, just our mindset, our mentality. We weren’t playing our style of basketball so we started getting stops mainly. We were able to get out and run, and take over,” Bowman said, agreeing that a big block by teammate Julian Roper Jr. with just over three minutes left in the third started to spark some momentum. “We got another block and another stop, and came down here and scored, and that just put the momentum over the top. You could tell they kind of got nervous when we came with the run.”

The Eaglets trimmed the deficit back to six, 46-40, entering the fourth, then scored the first eight points of the final period, taking a one-point lead, 47-46, on Bowman’s 3-pointer with 5:23 left. 

Sonny Wilson, who led Jesuit with 20 points, ended the OLSM run, tying the game with a layup with 3:30 left. 

“We did a couple of different things in the fourth quarter on the ball screens. We trapped it a little bit, we switched it, and then we put a little bit bigger kid on him,” OLSM coach Todd Covert said of trying to slow the freshman. “Man, I’ve known that kid since he was yea big — his brother went to St. Mary’s. Phenomenal kid, phenomenal family. He’s going to be a big-time player.”

JT Morgan had the last of his 14 points by hitting both ends of a one-and-one opportunity with 1:34 left to give the Cubs their last lead, 54-53.

“Just a lot of grit. And a lot of stops. We had to get stops. We weren’t playing our style of basketball. We weren’t getting any stops,” Bowman said. “So in the fourth quarter, in the huddles, we were just like ‘We gotta get stops.’ And the offense just kind of took care of itself.”

OLSM reclaimed the lead for good on Bowman’s drive with 1:10 left, then he and Kareem Rozier closed the game out with free throws, before Roper’s exclamation-point dunk in the final seconds.

It was a bit of a relief for Bowman, who hit his final four free throws, after going 6 for his first 15 attempts from the line.

“We’re not going talk about that. I gotta work on that. I’m just glad we won, we got it done. That’s all that matters,” Bowman said with a wry grin. “I just feel like we have a lot of shooters on our team, and just being able to space out the defense, that gives me space to operate. I can’t do it without my guys on my team. I can’t do it without these guys.”

Roper added 15 points, and Rozier had eight for the Eaglets. 

It wasn’t a spectacularly complex offensive formula, though.

“I wish it was great coaching. It was ball screen, and get out of the way,” said Covert, who didn’t say too much when Bowman was getting in his own head about the free-throw misses. “Lorne’s the most coachable kid I’ve ever had. I said ‘Lo, just stay in your routine, stay in your process, you’ll get it. You’re a great player.’ He found his way out of it.”

It was just that ability to grind through the problem that Covert pointed to, when championing his player for Mr. Basketball. 

“That’s why. That’s why. He can battle through adversity, battle through tough games — that’s what the great ones do. Mental toughness. Heart of a lion. Best player in the state,” Covert said. “He’s the best player in the State of Michigan, bar none. No question about it. We had three top-10 wins, played the hardest schedule in the State of Michigan — wasn’t even close. He’s the best player in Michigan. End of story.”

Bowman himself isn’t making too much of being a finalist, other than to be thankful.

“It’s definitely a blessing. All glory to God, and my savior, Jesus Christ. Without him, it would’t be possible,” the Wisconsin-bound senior said. “We’ll see how it goes, but right now, I’m just focused on the team, and keep getting wins.”

The Eaglets and Bowman will be back at Calihan on Thursday, when they’ll face off with another Mr. Basketball finalist, Tyson Acuff of PSL champion Detroit Cass Tech, in Operation Friendship.