Balentine tore an ACL in Western’s sectional opener against West Lafayette, but expects to be back up to full strength by the start of his senior season. Miller credited Balentine’s work ethic for his continued improvement as a player and leader on the floor, which should only further fuel his rehabilitation during the offseason.
“I see his decision-making evolving more and more each year,” Miller added. “He’s not just a scorer. He knows when to kick it out and hit the open guy. Being able to finish — he’s really worked hard on developing his outside shot over the last season, and that really helped us out this year. He shot 51 percent from the field — and those aren’t right around the basket, those are 3-pointers and 2-pointers. He has a great pull-up game from 15 feet. He’s improved dramatically in all phases of the game.”
Balentine is a two-time All-Area player. He made the third team last season.
Erik Bowen, Kokomo
Bowen was a rock in the middle for the Wildkats. The 6-6, 215-pound senior averaged 15 points and a team-high 8 rebounds per game. He shot a team-best 58.6 percent from the field.
“He had a great senior season. Averaging 15 points and 8 rebounds at the [Class] 4A level says a lot,” McCauley said. “The second half of the season, he averaged close to a double-double. He had three double-doubles in a row at one point and had big games against Bowman Academy and against Homestead in the regional. He was so consistent for us.”
Bowen scored a career-high 28 points and grabbed nine rebounds in a victory over Class 3A state runner-up Bowman Academy. He had 17 points on perfect shooting against regional champion Homestead.
McCauley noted Bowen took pride in playing for the Kats.