For as much basketball as Owen Davis has played in his young life, it might be surprising to learn he had a career first last week.
It happened during the Brainerd Warriors boys basketball victory at Sartell Friday, Jan. 3.
Davis enjoyed a 31 point and 14 rebound game, but it was his last three points that he’ll remember for a while.
“It is my first game-winning shot and it felt amazing,” Davis said. “All the credit to my coaches and team, though. My coach put me in that position to even take the shot. My teammates set it up very well for me and everything went well and we got the win. Which at the end of the day is the best part about it.”
The 63-62 victory was Brainerd’s second of the young season. The 6-foot-6 senior forward was 13-of-27 shooting for 48%. He was 3-of-7 from the line and hit two 3-pointers for his season-high 31 points.
His 14 rebounds were also a season-high and he added one block.
“We were running solid plays and I was able to get to the block,” Davis said. “Most of my points were 2s and near the rim. We were getting good plays. Guys were setting good screens and making good passes. It was just rolling.”
In Brainerd’s first eight games, Davis is averaging 14.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. He’s chipping in 1.8 assists and 1.2 steals per contest, but he’s hoping to improve those numbers as the Warriors finally enjoy some home games. Of Brainerd’s first nine games seven have been on the road.
That’s another reason Brainerd’s win at Sartell was so important.
“It was very important to win,” Davis said. “We were going into that game 1-6 and spirits were dropping a bit. That one was important just to get our morale up and keep us going. We started 2020 1-0 so we’ll see what we can do with that.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had a road win. Last year was tough, too. Those road games are always tough.”
Last season, Davis finished with 372 points (13.8 per game), 150 rebounds, 42 assists, 39 steals and 26 blocked shots. He shot 47% from the field, including 40.3% from 3-point.
It’s Davis’ range and versatility that makes him a defensive matchup problem.
“Against Sartell, we kind of knew no matter how they tried to defend him and who they were going to defend him with we were going to have an advantage,” Schoeck said. “They had one true post player and when they had him in the game we focused on getting Owen out on the perimeter and having the ball in his hands and trying to get him downhill to the hoop. When they went with their smaller lineups we focused on getting him to the block and getting him some easy looks down low.
“That versatility is really key. He’s obviously one of the returning leaders from last year so going into the season we wanted to focus a lot of our offense around him. It’s a lot easier to do when you can do it in multiple ways. He’s not just a big post player that you have to work everything through the block for him. It makes it tougher for other teams to prepare and gameplan on how they want to defend him.”
Davis said his focus in the offseason was to improve his entire game. He said while his versatility has been a big key to his success he wanted to enhance that part of his game even more.
“I wanted to be more like a point guard type,” Davis said. “I wouldn’t necessarily call me a point guard, but to be able to handle the ball a lot better and take it to the rim and then hit the 3 when I’m open.”
Schoeck agreed that Davis seems more comfortable with the ball in his hands and that’s allowed Brainerd to have him bring the ball up the court and get the team into offensive sets. What he’s been most pleased with his leadership while still being coachable.
“He’s a vocal leader and that’s always great to have,” Schoeck said. “Not only does he communicate what needs to be done on the floor, but he shows it by example, too. With this being his second year in the offense there is an added amount of comfort with what we’re trying to do. He’s been great with some of the younger guys in helping them to figure out what their roles are in the offense.”
One key for Davis and the Warriors is for the senior to stay out of foul trouble. The more Davis is on the court the more success Brainerd enjoys.
“It’s very key, and for our team in general, it’s key,” Schoeck said. “The last few weeks he’s done a really good job of staying away from foul trouble and playing defense with his feet instead of his hands. Early in the year, we made a point to sit down with him and watch every foul from the first couple of games. We showed him all of his fouls and talked about being in better position and how we can defend different guys.”
The four-year varsity veteran is making everything count this season. He said every drill, every practice and every road trip he’s making sure is a memorable one for him and his senior teammates.
“We’re trying to take in every moment -- down to the little things like working hard in every practice and doing our best every drill,” Davis said. “We’re doing our best before it’s all gone.”
Career highlight: Hitting the game-winning 3-pointer against Sartell
Other sports: Football
Grade-point average: 4.03
Favorite class: Creative foods
Favorite food: Wings
Favorite movie: “Remember the Titans”
Favorite TV show: “Game of Thrones”
Favorite website or app: Instagram
Favorite restaurant: Rafferty’s Pizza
Future plans: Attend college undecided where
Favorite athlete: Adam Thielen
Parents: Greg and Jody Davis
Other notable performances
Gabbie Smith, girls hockey, finished with two goals and an assist against Alexandria and scored on goal against St. Cloud.
Mason Kuepers, swimming and diving, won the 200- and 500-yard freestyles and was part of two winning relays against Sauk Rapids and won both individual events at the West Fargo Invite.
Dylan Paulson, swimming and diving, won the 50- and 100-yard freestyles and was part of two winning relays against Sauk Rapids.
Haden Kruse, boys hockey, finished with two goals and an assist against Alexandria. He added a goal and an assist against Roseau.
Christian Kadolph, boys hockey, finished with a goal and two assists against Alexandria and a goal against Roseau.
Izzy Olson, gymnastics, won the vault, bars and all-around against Sauk Rapids.
Brenna Deason, gymnastics, won the beam and floor against Sauk Rapids.
Kyle Eschenbacher, Atlie Danielson and Cade Barrett, wrestling, all finished 3-0 and secured first-place finishes at the Cambridge-Isanti Tournament.