Hempfield boys feel lucky to have Harry Sowers in lineup

Thursday, January 19, 2023 | 11:01 AM

When a sports reporter first dubbed him “Dirty Harry,” Hempfield’s Harrison Sowers had to do some research.

He thought the nickname might be derogatory.

“I didn’t know what it meant,” the senior guard said. “I asked my parents about it. I read about it and found out it was for Clint Eastwood.”

Finding that out, well, made his day.

“Dirty” is more of a complimentary connotation to Sowers, who has emerged as the Spartans’ go-to scorer in his final season of high school basketball.

The word might be used to describe his streaky 3-point shooting, which fans first caught a glimpse of last season when he was a spark player from the perimeter.

And that shot of his, it’s not dirty, but it surely isn’t ordinary.

“It’s self-taught,” Sowers said. “It’s a little different than anyone else. But it feels normal to me. It’s kind of a flick.”

That it is. Sowers brings the ball low, then winds up and around, counter-clockwise it seems, and sends the ball airborne.

“I had a cyst in my (right, shooting) wrist when I was a freshman,” he said. “Maybe that has something to do with it.”

Whatever the case, it works. Sowers, Hempfield’s lone returning starter, is averaging 18.6 points.

He has 32 3-pointers and also is among the team leaders in rebounds, assists and steals.

“I didn’t even know who he was when he first came into the program,” Hempfield coach Bill Swan said. “Now, he’s one of our toughest kids. He scores, yes, but he also defends and rebounds like crazy.”

Sowers, a 6-foot-3 guard, is the brother of former Hempfield softball pitcher Callie Sowers. His uncle is former Yough coach Casey Copeman, who started the local PA Elite AAU program.

“That kind of got me started, when I was in fifth grade,” Harry Sowers said.

Hempfield anticipated a rebuilding type of season after losing eight seniors and ushering in a boatload of underclassmen but knew Sowers would be the keynote as much as he would be the point of convergence for opponents.

“Coming into the season, we were talking about how tough it would be for him to muster up shots,” Swan said. “We knew teams were going to double (team) him and abuse him. He was a stand-still shooter last year.”

Sowers had 26 points and nine rebounds in a 71-61 double-overtime win over Baldwin. He made five 3-pointers in the victory.

He scored 19 in a 46-44 win over Canon-McMillan.

In Tuesday’s 47-46 loss at Norwin, he scored 17, including 12 in the fourth quarter as the Spartans nearly came all the way back from a nine-point deficit.

Last year, Sowers put up 31 in an 82-72 win over Greensburg Salem.

The stand-still shooter thing bothered Sowers a bit, so he set out to add depth to his game.

“I knew my role this year would be different,” he said. “I knew me and Caden (Biondi) would be handling the ball more, and I knew I would have to do more.”

The proof is in the game film.

He isn’t just running to the corners or popping to the wings for 3-point looks. Now, he’s stepping back with a defender in his face or taking opponents off the dribble.

He has been able to produce points by attacking the rim and drawing fouls.

“My coaches have really worked with me,” Sowers said. “They have done a lot for me.”

Against Norwin, he took the ball baseline, went up and under for a layup, then hit the foul shot after he was fouled.

It was a “dirty” play, just the way he liked it.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .


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