Howard's left-handed 3-point ace Meechie Bowens had quite a week on the hardwood.
Bowens started the week off with a nearly 30-foot buzzer-beater to edge McCallie at home and ended it by keying a second-half runaway in a District 6-AA 64-45 road victory over Brainerd.
In the span of 40 seconds in the third quarter Saturday night, Bowens turned a one-point lead into double figures as he sank three consecutive treys. The first swished from the right corner and the next two from several feet behind the left side of the arc to build a 42-32 lead with 3:28 left in the quarter.
"Every day I am in the gym shooting — sometimes really late at night and early the next morning, too," said Bowens, who scored 17 points and was 5-of-8 on 3s. "Coach tells me to keep shooting, keep shooting. So that's what I do. It motivates me and all of us to get back to state."
Based on this past week's results, Bowens could be one of the hottest shooters in the state.
Over the past five days his touch has been pivotal for seventh-ranked Howard (11-2, 7-1) in taking down McCallie, Red Bank, Signal Mountain and Brainerd. Bowens made 18 3-pointers in that stretch, which included seven against Signal Mountain.
However, a Howard record is still safe as Bowens has not yet beat his own best of 12 3s made in a game against Richard Hardy.
"As he keeps his confidence and takes good shots, Meechie can push us over the top," Hustlin' Tigers coach James Talley said. "He appreciates having the green light. He stretches the floor so well and it allows CJ (James) to drive to the bucket and for Kerrick (Thorne) to get going, too. We lean on him and his shot heavily."
The Hustlin' Tigers could not separate in the first half but did with Bowens and a stingy defense that made scoring in the paint an extremely hard task against them as Thorne and Co. protected the rim.
He and Brainerd's Kevin Halfacre Jr. both put on a clinic in the first quarter, scoring nine points apiece. Halfacre finished with a team-high 16 points, while teammate Jonte Williams had four blocks.
Deaunte Crawford's three putbacks and a first-quarter buzzer beater from Remeo Hubbard helped provide the Panthers (8-8, 3-3) with a 20-15 lead, but they scored only 25 points the rest of the way.
"We play Hustlin' Tigers defense," said James, who leads Howard in scoring. "That's what we are known for and love to do. We want to get to state again. The only thing on my mind is trying to get that ring. We have to keep working on our free throws, though."
Howard was only 9-of-26 from the charity stripe.
"We are going to keep needing Meechie's shooting, because right now we are a terrible free-throw-shooting team," Talley said. "If we hit them, we are probably undefeated right now. But the good thing is, Meechie is a shooter. Even when he has down nights, his confidence is through the roof. He is the main element to what we have going."
Contact Patrick MacCoon at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.