Wacey Bowland felt unstoppable.
Playing in the opening game of his home tournament, Gatesville’s post completed a fastbreak with the first in-game dunk of his career, and immediately, he knew something special was happening.
“I was going crazy,” the senior said. “I was real happy with myself.
“I really think that motivated me, because in the very next game, I had a putback dunk, and I just played great for the rest of the tournament. I was just riding that high.”
Bowland averaged 16.3 points during last week’s Gatesville Holiday Classic, helping the Hornets finish second in the eight-team field.
But the emotional dunk also propelled Bowland to become Freddy’s-KDHpressbox.com Player of the Week as he claimed the award in lopsided fashion, receiving 52.4 percent of the vote.
“I was surprised by the outcome,” Bowland said, “because there are so many other great athletes from around the area. I’m just happy that my efforts were noticed.”
The 6-foot-5-inch, 195-pounder started the tournament by recording 17 points, including his benchmark dunk, in a 67-46 victory against Leander Glenn before adding an eight-point outing during Gatesville’s 63-44 win against Goldthwaite.
The following day, against then-Class 4A No. 12 Wharton, Bowland produced a game-high 20 points and nine rebounds in a 69-63 upset. He repeated the offensive showing in the championship game, but it was not enough to prevent a 67-61 loss to Fort Worth Country Day.
Nevertheless, it felt like everything was going the Hornets’ way, according to Bowland.
“My teammates were just getting me the ball in spots where I like it and letting me do my thing,” he said. “We were all just playing hard, not letting anyone intimidate us and playing our style of basketball.”
Bowland beat out a trio of Class 6A standouts to earn the accolade.
Ellison senior guard Michael Aranda was second in the voting after connecting on six 3-pointers en route to 24 points and a spot on the all-tournament team as the Eagles beat Arlington Seguin 70-46 to claim the Fort Worth ISD Classic’s consolation championship.
Shianne Johnson, of Killeen, and Madison Hattix-Covington, of Ellison, rounded out the nominees.
The Lady Kangaroos senior was instrumental in helping her team defend its championship at Bastrop’s G.M. Blackman Tournament, landing on the all-tournament team in the process, while Hattix-Covington averaged 14 points as the Lady Eagles posted a 3-1 record at the KSA Events Holiday Girls Basketball Tournament in Orlando, Fla.
“Knowing the level of competition I was facing definitely makes this award more meaningful to me,” Bowland said.
While Bowland’s performances were impressive, he believes Gatesville is responsible for the honor.
“It feels great to know that the community has my back,” Bowland said, “along with the rest of my teammates.
“It just feels like everyone in Gatesville is always supporting us.”
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org