In helping lead W.T. Woodson to its first Virginia AAA state semifinal and earning Patriot District Player of the Year, sophomore guard Eric Bowles had a breakout season for the Cavaliers (Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post). In helping lead W.T. Woodson to its first Virginia AAA state semifinal and earning Patriot District Player of the Year, sophomore guard Eric Bowles had a breakout season for the Cavaliers (Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post).

While covering Monday’s Virginia AAA state semifinals at the Siegel Center, I had a chance to catch up with an old friend at halftime of W.T. Woodson‘s contest against Henrico. Though my buddy was there to support his alma mater, Henrico, his first question had to do with a certain player on Woodson’s roster.

“Who’s that No. 20 at point for Woodson?” he exclaimed.

“Oh, that’s Eric Bowles,” I responded. “He’s only a sophomore.”

Immediately, my friend’s eyes widened with awe.

Bowles has a tendency to do that, wowing crowds with his electric play and impressive poise at point guard. After earning a starting spot as freshman last year, Bowles played his way to Patriot District Player of the Year honors this season while helping lead Woodson to its first outright Northern Region title and state semifinal appearance.

“When it comes to a point guard who can run the show and make his teammates better with his play, I haven’t seen anyone better this year,” Cavaliers Coach Doug Craig said, who believes Bowles has Division I potential. “Eric’s athletic and he’s one of the few guys who’s just as fast with the ball as he is without it. He’s also a willing passer.

“If you want to see someone score 30, that’s not Eric, although I’m sure he could. If you want to see a true point guard who makes plays with poise, that’s Eric.”

The 5-foot-11 sophomore proves a perfect fit for Woodson’s offense. His speed and penetrating ability draws in defenders, opening up the perimeter for the Cavaliers’ wealth of three-point shooters. Bowles also played a key role in Peter Murray‘s postseason emergence by dishing to the hard-nosed senior for easy buckets in the lane.

“Honestly, I never know where I’m going to pass it when I drive into the lane, but if Peter is open, I know he’ll finish,” Bowles said after Woodson’s region semifinal win against South County. “I just try to make plays to get my teammates open looks and position us to win.”

Bowles’s leaping ability is a big reason why he can make these split-second decisions while soaring through the lane. His hangtime also leads to several jaw-dropping plays, like the up-and-under layup he made among three defenders during Woodson’s state quarterfinal victory against Battlefield.

With four starters graduating from this year’s team, even more attention and responsibility will rest on Bowles come next season. To prepare, Bowles will likely focus on improving his jump shot while working to become a better defender who can lock down opponents.

And while scoring is bound to increase from the 10.2 points per game he averaged as a sophomore, expect his leadership and facilitating skills to make the suddenly young Cavaliers a contender once again.

In Thursday’s playoff action:

  • Calvert knocked Oakland Mills from the undefeated ranks and out of the playoffs with a 59-57 win in the Maryland 2A South Region final.
  • After blowing out opponents all season, North Point showed its mettle by holding off No. 10 Eleanor Roosevelt for a 57-55 overtime win behind Khalia Prather‘s late free throw in the Maryland 4A girls’ state semifinal.
  • The other semifinal proved just as close, with Whitman falling to Baltimore Polytechnic, 33-32. Click here for both game stories.
  • River Hill beat Friendly, 52-43, to advance to its third Maryland 3A state final in the last five years. There, the Hawks will face defending state champ Aberdeen, which beat Damascus, 71-50. Click here for both stories.
  • Shaking off any rust built from having a week off with minimal practice, Sidwell Friends beat McKinley, 66-57, in the DCSAA quarterfinals behind Josh Hart‘s 32 points and 14 rebounds.
  • After dropping 30 points in a WCAC championship game loss to St. John’s last week, Good Counsel’s Lindsey Spann scored 27 in a 68-44 win against Seton Keough in the Bishop Walsh Girls Invitational quarterfinals. Meantime, St. John’s beat host Bishop Walsh, 77-10.

Rebounds collected by Coolidge’s David Kadiri during the Colts’ 68-55 win against Perry Street Prep in the DCSAA quarterfinals. The senior forward also scored 22 points for the DCIAA champions, setting up a semifinal rematch with DCIAA runner-up Theodore Roosevelt, which advanced with a win over National Collegiate, 75-66.

–With George Mason playing Friday morning for a chance to defend its Virginia A Division 2 crown, check out this feature by Preston Williams on how senior forward Stephanie Cheney has blazed a unique path to success.

-The bracket for the Alhambra Catholic Invitational has been released and the field is loaded including DeMatha, Gonzaga and O’Connell. The eight-team tournament will take place March 14-16 at Frostburg State.

Wise vs. No. 5 Eleanor Roosevelt, 7 p.m. (Maryland boys’ 4A South region final)
Eleanor Roosevelt has won 12 straight games but the Raiders will face a test in Wise, who is coming off a rout of DuVal and nearly beat Eleanor Roosevelt in their only regular-season meeting.