EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – It any sport, winning back-to-back championships is a tough feat. But the Fowler girls basketball team welcomed that challenge.
The Eagles won the Division 4 state title in 2021 and reclaim the crown in 2022 with a 61-46 win over Plymouth Christian on Saturday.
Fowler overcame its biggest obstacle of the season in the district championship game, by taking down rival Portland St. Patrick after losing both regular-season meetings to the Shamrocks. Once the Eagles claimed the district title, they won all of their games by double-digits en route to the state title.
Senior Mia Riley led the Eagles with 15 points and her sister Emma Riley, who reached 1,000 career points in the state title game, scored 14 points. The Eagles also got a key contribution from senior Grace Epkey, who added 10 points.
“It’s wonderful,” Fowler coach Nathan Goerge said. “I don’t think it’s really hit me yet, but seeing the excitement on the girls’ face makes me realize it’s actually happening.”
Epkey said, “To be able to grow up with these girls and go through the years with them, it’s just been amazing to win two in a row. There’s nothing like it.”
Coming into the season, the Eagles knew there was going to be a target on their back. Seeing conference rival Portland St. Patrick as the No. 1 seed in Division 4 was all the motivation Fowler needed.
“Last year we knew we were capable of it, even with those negative comments, like ‘people are out because of COVID.’ We had something to prove this year, especially being ranked No. 2 instead of No. 1,” Mia Riley said.
When Fowler won it all last season, that was its first state title since 1991. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire Fowler community wasn’t allowed to be in attendance. So, winning it this year with a normal, no-limited crowd was all the Eagles could ask for.
“Seeing all of our fans there, it was so much different than last year,” Emma Riley said. “It feels so much more real this time having everyone behind us.”