Murrieta Mesa point guard Shayd Bowers has led her team to a 12-8 record this year in her senior season.
Like her five classmates on the Murrieta Mesa High girls basketball team, Shayd Bowers knew this season would be different.
The Rams underwent a painful inauguration in their first two varsity seasons, losing more than 20 games each year — including every Southwestern League matchup — while combining for just nine victories. But season No. 3 carried promise.
Bowers, a 5-foot-8 guard who led the team in scoring in each of the last two seasons, was one of six seniors on the roster, and all of them had been in the program since its inception as a junior varsity-only squad three years ago. Coach Rob Gergins and assistant Megan Barbour also were beginning their fourth year with the group, giving the Rams continuity in nearly every facet of the program.
One of the few questions Murrieta Mesa faced centered on Bowers, whom the Rams needed to shift from the shooting guard and wing positions to point guard to begin their rise toward prominence.
The transition has been largely successful thus far. The Rams surpassed the combined victory total of their first two seasons before the end of December, including winning Hemet’s Bettie Smith Classic a week before Christmas.
Bowers, an all-tournament pick in that tournament, continues to lead Murrieta Mesa (12-8) in scoring while displaying solid ball-handling skills and giving the Rams reason to hope they can finally end their league losing streak.
The Californian caught up with Bowers last week to talk about the Rams’ first taste of success, the transition to point guard and just how much they want that elusive first league victory.
Q: When did you find out you were going to be playing point guard this year?
A: I kind of knew it was coming. We only had one main point guard (last year), and she was graduating. I knew that when she left, I would have to be the point guard.
Q: What did you do to get ready for that?
A: I started doing travel ball and I got a trainer and he started helping me with ball-handling. At point guard, you really have to be confident with your ball-handling skills. And I started growing confident with it, and it helped a lot.
Q: How are you liking it?
A: I’m really liking it. I just like how I’m able to control the pace of the game. I just get to be the playmaker. It’s fun. It’s a new and exciting job.
Q: You’re obviously a much-improved team from last season. What has been different about this season for you and the team?
A: We just decided to play a faster-paced game. We really wanted to compete this year. A lot of us are seniors, and we want to bring it.
Q: What was it like for you in past seasons?
A: The (junior varsity) year was really exciting. We did a great job, but when we got to have a varsity program, it was frustrating at times. Your spirits are not up when you’re not winning. So we had to get through that. We just had to keep fighting and not give up, realize the season isn’t over.
Q: Was that hard?
A: Yeah, it was. You had to train your mind to not give up. You’re getting destroyed mentally sometimes, and you have to just overcome it.
Q: Given that, what has been the most enjoyable aspect of this season?
A: By far, the Hemet tournament when we won first place and got to bring home a trophy. Mikayla Greens and I (both all-tournament picks) got to receive the trophy, so that was great.
Q: How much have you all thought about or discussed winning your first league game?
A: (Last week’s 47-42 loss to Temecula Valley) was so devastating when we didn’t come home with it. But the season is not over. We have seven games left and we are going to fight for every one of those. We are going to get a game in league this year.