Chad Bowman is one of those guys who will commit to something, and then go all in.
“I knew he worked hard. Now that I’m working with him, you say, ‘Oh, my goodness,’ ” Mekeel Christian Academy basketball assistant Matt McCarty said after Bowman notched his 300th win with the program Saturday night. “He has a full day in school. He goes to practice. He scouts. He breaks down tape. He stays up late coming up with strategies.
“He has a lot of intelligence and experience, but it’s his work ethic that’s special.”
Bowman’s 20th edition built a big lead early and soared to the milestone victory, beating King’s Christian Collegiate of Toronto, 74-39, in a non-league contest.
Mano Senthil, Mike Mann and Herbie Sexton scored 13 points apiece, and 6-foot-4 newcomer Damonte White collected 11 points, 12 rebounds and six blocked shots as the unbeaten Lions added another line to Bowman’s superb resume.
All but one of his teams has posted double-digit wins, topped by his Section II and regional championship group that piled up 25 of them in the 2006-07 season. There’s also the 10 straight Western Athletic Conference Southern Division titles that this season’s group wants to extend.
“You remember great teams and great battles, but it’s the process you go through. That’s fun,” said Bowman. “The springs. The summers. Practices. I get a kick out of all that stuff.”
The way Bowman goes about his coaching business tends to rub off on his players.
“Teams see how invested he is, and they want to do that, too,” said McCarty, who was a standout on that 25-win team. “You can’t help it.”
“He’s very committed. If he can do it, why can’t we?” asked Sexton. “Why can’t we work to get a little bit better?”
Committment and effort have paid off handsomely, with six of Bowman’s teams making it to the Section II final four in the last eight seasons.
“I’ve been blessed at Mekeel [formerly Schenectady Christian School] to have real hard-working players. I’m lucky in that sense. And over the years, I’ve had great coaches who worked with the players,” Bowman said. “To be successful, everybody has to work hard. It’s a combined effort. It can produce some pretty good results.”
Mekeel has been real good this season, beating Duanesburg (85-58) and Sharon Springs (80-25) before Saturday’s game, which saw the Lions grab a quick 10-2 lead. They were up after one quarter, 22-9, and at the half, 39-22, before rattling off 22 unanswered points in a third-quarter burst.
“We knew he was close [to 300], but no, he didn’t say anything about it,” said Sexton. “He just said, ‘Work hard. Attack the boards. Play good defense. Stay focused.’ ”
Bowman, who did not coach during the 1999-2000 campaign and is 300-110 overall at the Scotia-based school, has a way of saying little and getting a lot out of his players.
“He knows how to fire us up. He knows how to get us started with one negative word. That’s all it takes,” said Sexton. “He’s very good at it. He’s very good at motivation.”
Mekeel was certainly up to start the second half Saturday. After Kulber Gill began the frame with a three-point basket for King’s Christian (11-4), Mekeel went on its impressive run that was parts defense, one-and-done rebounding and attacking the basket at the other end.
“Chad’s teams always play extremely hard,” said King’s Christian coach Eric Bulthuis. “Every time we come down here, we learn something about playing hard. We haven’t beaten them, but it’s always good for us. It’s a good wakeup.”
Senthil scored 11 of his 13 points in the 22-0 third-quarter run on four drives, a jumper and a foul shot, and White contributed a putback, a baby hook and two blocked shots.
Marquan Newman had eight points and five steals for Mekeel. Carter Smith led King’s Christian with 15 points.
Mekeel beat King’s Christian last season, 64-42, as part of a 17-game win streak.
Smith 5-1-15, Moll 1-0-2, J. Groot 1-0-2, McRae 1-0-2, Gill 1-0-3, Obi 4-2-10, Christie 1-0-2, Bufera 1-0-3. Totals: 15-3-39.
Senthil 6-1-13, Mann 5-0-13, Newman 4-0-8, C. Mulvey 2-0-4, A. Mulvey 3-0-7, Sexton 5-2-13, White 4-3-11, Gomez 2-0-5. Totals: 31-6-74.
King’s Christian 9 13 3 14 — 39
Mekeel 22 17 22 13 — 74
Three-point goals: Smith 4, Gill, Bufera, Mann 3, A. Mulvey, Sexton, Gomez.
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 395-3143 or firstname.lastname@example.org.