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Storm win big to honor former coach Keith Showers

By Emily Sisk

A win was never really in question.

Chemeketa’s men’s basketball team defeated the Southwestern Oregon Community College Lakers at home this past Saturday in a relatively easy outing, 111-75.

Going into the game, the No. 1-ranked Storm were the clear favorites against the No. 7- ranked Lakers. After securing a playoff berth, though, it was possible that the team could lessen its level of urgency and intensity.

After each Storm player was announced in the game opening, they walked across the court to hug Scott Showers, the son of the late Keith Showers, who died in December. Showers was the first men’s basketball coach at Chemeketa and mentored basketball players up until his death.

About 20 of Showers’ close friends and family attended the game, sitting near the front at half-court. They hoped, as all in the stands did, that the game would be a fitting tribute to a man who devoted his life to Storm basketball.

From the starting tip-off, the Storm’s defense was aggressive, at times applying a full-court press on the Lakers’ guards. Inbound and cross-court passes were hotly contested by the Storm players, who won a couple of steals in the opening minutes of the game.

Although the defense was on point, Chemeketa’s offense was tepid for the first 5 minutes. Fortunately, the Lakers were having ball-handling issues and were not able to mount a sizeable lead, and the Storm tied the game at 8-8 with 14 minutes left in the half.

Freshman Keith Bowen Jr. then brought a burst of energy, igniting his team with steals, aggressive defense, and drives to the basket.

Following his lead was freshman Cameron Lyon, who forced several turnovers and sank a couple of three-pointers.

The Storm’s lead quickly grew to 34-23 with 7:20 left.

From that point on, the Storm hit its stride. Players connected on assists and cross-court passes that turned into easy lay-ups.

Adding the exclamation point on the half, freshman Tim Graham hit a slam dunk with 5 minutes left.

The Storm continued its fluid and energetic play until the whistle, tripping up the Laker’s offense with precise ball movement. The half ended with Chemeketa firmly in the lead, 63-32.

The excitement over the large lead soon turned somber as Athletic Director Cassie Belmodis gave a short speech honoring Keith Showers,

Belmodis concluded the speech by revealing that the annual men’s alumni game would now be named after Showers. Following the speech, each Storm team member walked across the court and greeted the former coach’s family and friends.

As the second half started, SWOCC attempted to climb back into the game. Within the first 3 minutes, they scored on three lay-ups and forced two Storm turnovers.

Chemeketa’s defense and offense overall lacked the energy that it had displayed in the first 20 minutes, but the team was still able to make solid plays when they needed them to fend off any kind of Lakers comeback.

Even though Chemeketa didn’t dominate in the second half, the team was able to hold the margin steadily for the remainder of the game.

Graham was the high scorer for the Storm with 20 points. Bowen finished with 18. Freshman Jalen Ballard quietly scored 18 points as well, with an impressively efficient 6 of 7 field goals made.

Bowen was quick to dispel the notion that the players might have gone into the game with a more relaxed mindset since clinching a spot in the playoffs, bringing up the team’s 101-78 loss against Clackamas on Wednesday

“I think we went into it with more intensity, actually,” Bowen said. “We had something to prove to ourselves after losing that game.”

The Storm will face off against Portland Community College at 7:30 Feb. 25. It will be the team’s last home game of the regular season.

“We’re not even worried about being No. 1,” Bowen said. “We’re just worried about playing well.”

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