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On Target

Owen Does It All for Archers

Kirstie Owen seldom leaves the floor for the women's basketball team.
Kirstie Owen seldom leaves the floor for the women's basketball team.

Kirstie Owen stands with her hands on her hips during a timeout late in a recent game against Jefferson College. The Archers will come up short in this game, but Owen will not be coming off the court.

For anyone who has followed the Archers closely this year, that will not come as a surprise. Owen would play all 40 minutes against the Vikings, as has become the norm for the Archers’ sophomore point guard.

“She needs to be on the floor as much as possible,” Archers head coach Shelly Ethridge said.  “I’ll never forget when she first came to us, we were scrimmaging and we put a sub in for her and she got fairly upset. I didn’t understand just how much she loves the game. I wish I had 15 ‘K-Os.’ She’s a competitor, and those are the kind of people we need.”

Owen’s tenacity and team-oriented focus is nothing new. Those qualities were bred while in high school in Salem, Ill., under the guidance of longtime head coach Janet Holst. In Owen, Ethridge knew she was acquiring the perfect fit for her program. By choosing St. Louis Community College, Owen chose the best coaching match she could find to follow up Holst’s teaching and coaching style.

“They’re strict just like my high school coach was, and I wanted someone just like her, because I’ve been coached by really good coaches. I have to have someone strict,” Owen said.

That coaching, as well as Owen’s work ethic and personal drive, has allowed her to maximize her ability collegiately, similar to the way she did at Salem.

Owen plays much bigger than her frame would suggest. The Archers’ sophomore point guard is listed, perhaps generously, at 5-5 in the game program. But that doesn’t keep her from being one of the most visible—and productive—players on the court.

Since losing sophomore guards Datona Ball and Shakaunna Futrell for the remainder of the season this month, Owen’s role has gone from a steady defensive presence and occasional offensive contributor to leading scorer. In the Jan. 16 game against Jefferson, Owen scored 16 first-half points to jump-start the STLCC scoring. Owen filled up the stat sheet by also grabbing four rebounds and a steal.

For the year, Owen is averaging 10 points and three rebounds a game, and ranks first among Archers guards with 29 assists on the year. In addition to that performance, Owen, who played a key role in last year’s Region XVI championship team, has taken to the role of veteran leader for what is now largely a youthful Archers backcourt.

“It’s really always been that way for me,” Owen said. “All my grade school and high school career, I’ve been the one who needed to talk and keep people ready, so (leading) comes naturally now.”

If the Archers are to return to the level of success the team saw in the first semester, when they reeled off a 10-2 start to the season, you can be sure Owen will play a key role. For Ethridge, the player who represented the perfect fit as a freshman starter a year ago now represents the perfect fit as a team leader.

“Although she’s not a ‘captain’, she is our captain,” Ethridge said. “She’s a quiet leader on and off the floor. She’s successful in the classroom and she’s successful on the floor. In all aspects of the game, she’s one of the best.”