LIMA — Lima Senior’s Essence Cowan has a silky-smooth 3-point shot.
But consider that her cousin is one of the top boys players in the state, Lima Senior’s Xavier Simpson.
Over the years, Cowan has spent plenty of time working on her game with Simpson and his father/Lima Senior boys basketball coach Quincey Simpson.
“We started working out together in fifth grade,” Cowan said of Xavier. “And his dad actually helped me to get to where I am today. He (Quincey) started me with the ball handling and the shooting. He really taught me how to shoot. … And me watching him (Xavier) play has helped me. I’ve learned a lot about offense and how to attack.”
Cowan, a 5-foot-6 senior guard, scored her 1,000th-career point in a home game against Ottawa-Glandorf this year. She now has 1,132 career points.
For the season, she’s averaging 16.2 points, 3 rebounds and 1.4 assists. She leads the Spartans in 3-pointers and 3-point percentage (36.5 percent). She’s also shooting 88 percent on free throws. Cowan also averages 1.7 steals.
She will play basketball at Owens Community College next year.
“Essence and Rion (Thompson) both do a good job of putting in the work by example,” Lima Senior coach Vince Halliday said. “Consistently, they are my best two practice players. And Essence is my most versatile player, especially on the defensive end.”
Cowan and Bowling Green State-bound senior Rion Thompson (24.1 ppg) have helped the Spartans to a 13-7 record (7-5 in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference).
“It’s a great feeling when I’m able to drive to the basket and know that I have a wide-open three in the corner for Essence,” Thompson said. “We’ve been playing together since the second grade, so we’ve been able to build chemistry over the years.”
Added Cowan of Thompson, “We grew up together. She has her side of the court and I have mine. If she drives and kicks it out, I’ll shoot. If I miss, she’s get the rebound.”
Cowan has played basketball since she was able to walk.
When she started at Lima Senior, she went out for soccer and used her athletic ability to be the goalkeeper.
In basketball, she’s started since she was a freshman.
“Coming in from middle school, I didn’t think I was good enough to play varsity as a freshman,” Cowan said. “But coach (Halladay) told me I made varsity and I said, ‘Wow.’ It surprised me a lot.”
Cowan said her confidence in her 3-point shooting began at the beginning of this year. That came after extended shooting sessions in the gym after her junior year.
“I would shoot 100 shots a day, with 50 of those 3-pointers,” she said. “I have the mindset now. Before then, I wasn’t that comfortable shooting threes. This year I have the confidence I can knock them down.”
Halladay has been impressed with how far her game has grown.
“Her game has really progressed over the last four years,” he said. “She came in as a freshman, and even into her sophomore year, she was basically a catch-and-shoot player. Then last year as a junior, she started developing putting the ball on the floor. This year as a senior she gets to the hole easily and gets by people with a quick first step. And, obviously, she can still catch and shoot.”
On Jan. 16, she scorer her 1,000th point in the third quarter on a spinning, driving layup at home against Ottawa-Glandorf. After receiving the game ball, she had to leave the game for good because she couldn’t catch her breath.
It was feeling she had never experienced.
“It was a relief to get it, and I was blessed,” Cowan said. “But I was a little stressed. I think I had an anxiety attack. It was the first time it ever happened. I tried to come back, but I couldn’t catch my breath.”
She has since fully recovered and is back in her rhythm of knocking down 3-pointers.
Reach Tom Usher at email@example.com or on Twitter at @Lima_Usher