A big influence for Bowsher boys basketball coach Joe Guerrero is former NBA and college coach Paul Westhead.
Westhead was known for having teams like the Los Angeles Lakers that played a wide-open, up-tempo brand of basketball. At Loyola Marymount, his teams often averaged more than 100 points per game with a run-and-gun style.
Guerrero’s approach for the Rebels is much the same.
Reaching the 100-point mark, which the Rebels have already done three times this season, is a sign they’re executing the game plan.
“I met Paul Westhead a long, long time ago, back in the ’80s,” Guerrero said. “When I was at Clay, my first year there we scored 110 points and that’s still the record at Clay. I’ve always wanted to go fast, it’s just sometimes you have to adapt your systems to the personnel you have. It seems like this personnel that we have right now is ideal for playing the way we do.”
The Rebels (6-1 overall, 2-0 City League) are averaging 85 points per game.
During one stretch, Bowsher won on the road at Leipsic 114-74, defeated Woodward at home 100-80, then won at Sandusky 101-72. The only loss was a 65-50 setback to Springfield.
Five seniors share the role as the leaders. All have been exposed to the run-and-gun scheme in the past four seasons. Four of them are averaging in double figures in scoring.
Nate Allen, a 6-foot-4 guard, leads the team at 22.6 points per game, up from his City League-best average of 18.0 last season.
Dajuan King, a 6-1 guard, averages 18.8 points. Cameron White, a 6-foot point guard, averages 17.6, while Jason Sandridge, a 6-2 guard-forward, is at 12.0.
Mark Washington, a 6-2 post player and the City League player of the year in football, leads the Rebels in rebounding (8.6) while also averaging 7.6 points.
The offense gives everyone on the court the green light to shoot.
“I think it’s good because it’s not just on one person,” said Allen, who has made a team-best 15 of 39 3-pointers (38 percent). “Anybody can score 30 points a night, from me to Cam, Dajuan, Jason, and Mark.
“You can’t just guard one player. You have to guard the whole team.”
White, who has a team-leading 43 assists (7.1 average), believes their approach is a successful one.
“I don’t think a lot of people can handle the offense that we run because we run it the whole game nonstop,” White said. “As players, we don’t really get tired and a lot of teams can’t stay with us.”
King, who hit a game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds of a 65-62 win over St. John’s Jesuit, wouldn’t want to play in any other system. Full-court defensive pressure helps push the offensive pace.
“We force a lot of turnovers,” King said. “We like to get up and down the court and pass the ball to our teammates and everybody is happy.”
The more they have the ball, the more chances they have to score.
“The goal with what we try to do is to get over 80 possessions a game,” Guerrero said. “I’m real big on points per possession and getting 80 possessions per game, and to try to shoot 80 shots per game.
“When I told them a couple of years ago we’re trying to shoot a shot every seven seconds, I know they looked at me like I was crazy, but it’s worked out and we do that.”
Everyone has the green light on the court to shoot.
“I don’t think I’ve said in three years or told anyone they’ve taken a bad shot, which is pretty tough to do,” Guerrero said. “But I think that increases our shooting percentage because when you have guys that know the coach is OK with the shots you’re taking, they’re going to have more confidence shooting it.
“We never have someone shoot the ball and look at me, saying, ‘Was that a good shot.’ If you’re open, for us, it’s a good shot.”
Allen has signed to play at North Carolina Central University. He chose the school over Bowling Green, Buffalo, and Bethune-Cookman partly because the playing style is up-tempo and similar.
Allen’s focus for now is to finish on top of the City League after losing in the championship game last year. They made a huge statement last Friday with a 67-58 win over Scott, which entered the season as the league’s preseason favorite.
“We just have to keep playing together as a team, and to keep knocking down open shots and playing defense,” Allen said.