A great relationship: Mavericks’ Kelsey Sigl, Hanna Bowden share learning connection
All the new players on the Mesa State College women’s basketball team were getting to know each other in the fall during pickup games and small-group workouts.
Something clicked between Kelsey Sigl and Hanna Bowden.
“From the beginning we had that connection,” Sigl said. “I feel like she’s the little sister I never had. I treat her like (I treat) my little brother. There’s no sympathy. I just tell her like it is.”
Tuesday, the Mavericks (17-9) play at Adams State (20-8) in the first round of the RMAC Shootout. The first-round winners play Friday in Pueblo.
Mesa hasn’t been to the RMAC tournament since 2008, and hasn’t made it out of the first round since 2003.
Sigl, only a sophomore, took it upon herself to help Bowden, a freshman from Montrose, learn the college game. Early in the season, Bowden was a little wide-eyed, trying to keep up with the speed of the game and the atmosphere of college basketball.
When she substituted in during her first home game at Brownson Arena, a large group of fans from Montrose stood and cheered. Bowden couldn’t help but look over and smile at her friends and former teammates.
The two-time All-State player for the Indians had her ups and downs early, getting into foul trouble by being over-aggressive. Saturday, she showed how far she’s come.
She’s learned how to control her 6-foot-1 frame against players her own size, and has become more and more polished at catching the ball in traffic and scoring.
Defensively, she’s always talking from the baseline, calling out screens, and uses her strength and ability to block shots to go against more experienced players. She’s still a little raw, but is also like a sponge, taking every bit of coaching to heart.
“Ohhh,” coach Roger Walters said of Bowden’s play after Mesa State upset third-ranked Fort Lewis on Saturday night. “They have a great relationship. Kels tells her like it is, and she’s earned the right to coach her a little bit and does a great job with her.
“H has come into a great situation to learn from Kelsey and Amy (Weitzeil) and Alaina (Brennan). And she’s a quick study.”
Bowden had one of several key plays down the stretch Saturday for the Mavericks in their 57-51 upset of third-ranked Fort Lewis, and also stepped in when Sigl got into early foul trouble.
Sigl was whistled for three fouls and played only three minutes in the first half. One of those fouls was changed to Amy Weitzeil at halftime.
In Sigl’s absence, Bowden had four first-half rebounds, one steal and blocked a shot. She took only two shots in the game, but the second one was big.
Sigl was fouled with 3:44 to play and missed the back end of a two-shot foul. Bowden, who had subbed for Weitzeil, grabbed the offensive rebound. As she was being fouled, Bowden threw the ball up in the air in the general direction of the basket.
The shot went in for a 51-44 lead, and Sigl was the first one to give her a bear hug.
“She completely stepped up and we needed that out of her at the end. It’s unfortunate it happened this late in the season,” Sigl joked. “No, she played awesome. I’m so proud of her.”
Bowden finished with seven rebounds, none bigger than that one offensive board.
“It’s finally started clicking, and now I know not to play like a freshman anymore. It’s coming together,” Bowden said.
When asked what Sigl has taught her this season, Bowden just smiles.
“A lot of stuff. She always says that she’s my big sister and I’m her little sister,” said Bowden, who, like Sigl, has a brother, but no sisters. “She’s always yelling at me and getting on me. She’s helped me a lot with everything.”
Sigl, a junior college All-American last season at Bismark (N.D.) State, is the Mavs’ leading scorer (16.7 points per game) and averages 5.7 rebounds a game. Bowden averages 4.3 points and 4 rebounds a game and has a team-high 14 blocked shots.
The Mavs are confident Bowden will become a dominant post player, and for the next two years, she’ll have Sigl constantly in her ear.
“I see her potential and I want the best for her,” Sigl said. “She’s going to be an absolute beast when she figures it out.”