Carmel hired Tim Bowen four years ago, a move widely praised around the area. Bowen had been successful as Grayslake Central coach at and was considered the defensive mastermind of the ball-hawking defense that propelled Jereme Richmond’s Waukegan teams to success.
It hasn’t taken long for Bowen to make his mark in Mundelein. The Corsairs’ 61-42 win over visiting Wauconda on Wednesday improves their record to 21-6, the school’s highest total since a 24-win season in 1985.
“I’ve had a lot of help here at Carmel, just an excellent staff around me,” Bowen said. “It feels pretty great to have this success, we are excited about where the program is going.”
This season has been built around 6-10 senior Jack George, who is averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds. He didn’t manage that against Wauconda, finishing with eight points and seven rebounds, but Michael Barr (15 points, five rebounds) was there to pick up the slack.
“It’s nice to know you can count on your teammates when you aren’t having your best night,” George said.
George has interest from a long list of Division I schools, including Wisconsin-Green Bay, Albany, Wofford and Wright State. He’s going to finish up the season before taking his visits and making a decision.
“It’s been great to be the group that helped bring Carmel basketball back,” George said. “I think we’re proud of that, it’s been a long process.”
The Corsairs led Wauconda 31-14 at the half. Wauconda (13-10) made a 10-1 run to start the third quarter, cutting the deficit to just six points, but a three-point play from Carmel’s Nickai Poyser (seven points) ended the threat.
“I think we’ve done a good job of helping get Carmel basketball back to a certain level,” Barr said. “But we aren’t satisfied yet, we can still accomplish a lot the rest of the season.”
Senior Billy Kirby added nine points and sophomore Shareif Belser-Bailey added five for Carmel (21-6).
Ben Carlson led Wauconda with 11 points and five rebounds.
“Not to jinx us but I think we are capable of winning a regional,” Bowen said. “And once you get into the sectionals anything can happen. Our next three games are against Marian Catholic, Libertyville and Benet. So we could go 0-3, but you can’t ask for a better warmup for the playoffs than to play that type of competition.”