College Sports

Post players can lift Heights higher

Heights junior Jhasmin Bowen doesn't have the look of a dominant inside player. While she's tall (6-foot), she's lean, bordering on lanky.

On the flip side, senior teammate Kamisha Richard (5-11) has the appearance of a post player — her strength is obvious just by looking at her.

Those appearances mean little.

Bowen establishes her presence in the lane in a more physical fashion than Richard, who relies on finesse.

Together they will try to lead Heights to the Class 6A title. Heights (19-1), the state's top-ranked team, will play host to Derby at 7 tonight in a sub-state semifinal.

"Mimi (Richard) is one of the best passers I've ever seen, and Jhasmin is one of the best finishers when she gets on the blocks," said Heights coach Kip Pulliam, whose teams won 6A in 2006 and 2007 but have finished fourth the past two seasons.

The Falcons are loaded with talent that includes Tahlia Pope, Allegria Chisom, Taylor Chandler and Mary Sims. But for Heights to return to the title game, Bowen and Richard will be a factor.

"I think they hold all the cards of our team," Pulliam said. "They are the heart and soul, and you can have guards, but if you don't have big girls, you won't finish stuff."

Both are versatile — they can pass, rebound, play a swarming defense. Bowen averages 16.8 points, 11.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 3.4 steals. Richard averages 12.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 4.7 steals.

"They are the back of our traps, and they save us when we make mistakes and they're there when we go for buckets at the end of the game," Pulliam said.

And both likely will play Division I basketball. Richard originally made an oral commitment to play at New Orleans, but when the college dropped from Division I, she pulled her commitment. Now she's waiting to see what will happen.

"I was very disappointed," Richard said."... I still don't know where I'm going and it bothers me. I'm going to keep playing hard."

Possible schools include South Alabama, North Florida, Texas-Arlington, Texas-Pan American and IUPUI.

Bowen has been offered scholarships by Wichita State, Louisville, Indiana, Arkansas and Missouri.

The two know they are different players, though.

"I like to get it on the go, dribble and go," Richard said. "She can post up and be strong and do a strong move."

In the past two years, each has improved her game.

Richard, who played for two years at Southeast before transferring, has gotten stronger and is more aggressive inside.

"Left-handers, they're tough to defend," Pulliam said. "And she's brought a whole different game because she's an unbelievable passer. She has that knack of finding a way to get around people, weave through people, gets the ball up and knocks it in. She uses her body well under control, and she scores."

Richard might not play tonight because of a hurt ankle. She said she would play Friday, though.

As for Bowen, she played sparingly as a freshman at Heights when she was all elbows and knees, according to Pulliam.

"When I was younger, my body was long and lanky and I didn't know what to do with it and my feet moved before I knew they would," she said.

But she knew how to rebound, and she has become one of the Wichita area's best rebounders.

"She thinks every ball is hers," Pulliam said. "When the rebound comes off the rim, it's 'I'm going after it and if I don't get it, I'm going after the next one.' She just has that relentless attitude."