Stowers – and Stowers – lead Simon Kenton to Sweet 16

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Brenden Stowers told few, if any, he wanted to coach girls basketball – until he became Simon Kenton’s bench boss last April.

Not even his father, Jeff Stowers, who led the Lady Pioneers to five Eighth Region titles (2008, ’09, ’15, ’17 and ’18), knew. 

Regardless of the reason, it’s been a great year in Independence. 

Brenden Stowers took over for his dad and led the Pioneers to a 19-14 record, the school’s sixth Eighth Region title and a first-round match against Second Region champion Henderson County Thursday in the Mingua Beef Jerky Girls Sweet 16® Tournament at 8:30 p.m. at Rupp Arena.

“It wasn’t kind of really on my radar until that first year,” the younger Stowers, 42, said. “I’m used to executing game plans. Now, I get to come up with them, try to implement them. 

“That kind of hooked me and drew me in; I fell in love with the scouting part, all that stuff.”

Jeff Stowers said Brenden has been the de facto coach since 2020.

Jeff (front) and Brenden (back) coaching during the 2008 state tournament in Bowling Green. Photo provided | Marc Figgins

“Actually, the last couple years, he’s run practice and everything for us,” the elder Stowers said. “He’s well-schooled; I just let him take over ‘cause I knew it was coming to the end for me.”

Jeff Stowers, 68, had 427 wins with the Pioneers and 527 all-time if you count the 100 at Seven Hills in Cincinnati. His Simon Kenton wins place him fourth among Northern Kentucky girls coaches all-time in career wins at a Northern Kentucky school. (Boone County’s Nell Fookes had 686, Holy Cross’ Bill Goller had 512, and Ray Kues had 460 at St. Henry, Bishop Brossart, Silver Grove and Boone County.)

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Brenden Stowers graduated from Simon Kenton in 1999, and like his dad, played collegiately at Northern Kentucky University from 1999-2003. In his senior season at NKU, he was Co-player of the Year in the Great Lakes Valley Conference and a second-team NCAA Division II All-America.

After college, Brenden Stowers briefly entertained offers from professional basketball teams overseas, and he tried out in the NBA’s Summer Development League. But injuries, including a torn left pectoral muscle, ended his playing career.

“I had all the injuries from my playing days,” he said. “Back then, we played through them … Everything kind of caught up. I had broken all my fingers, dislocated two, never got them fixed. Now I’m in my 40s, I can feel it.”

Before returning to Simon Kenton as an assistant 10 years ago, Brenden Stowers had stints at Xavier and Thomas More University. Jeff Stowers, meanwhile, sees a lot of himself in his son. 

“Yes I can,” he said. “I can see a lot of similarities, but then again I can see a lot of things on his own, and I can see a lot of things he learned from those different entities.”

Brenden’s basketball education began in high school. From former Simon Kenton coach Dan Trame, he learned toughness, and he adopted all-court pressure defense and uptempo offensive concepts from former Pioneer coach Scott Humphrey.

Stowers learned to be tough, but compassionate yet calm on the sidelines from former NKU coaches Ken Shields, who also coached Jeff Stowers, and Dave Bezold. Then there was former NKU women’s head coach Nancy Winstel.

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“Us men’s basketball players at Northern, we were afraid of her,” Brenden Stowers said. “She was another one that was a very caring, but a strict disciplinarian; she demanded everybody’s best at all times everywhere that you are. Just listening to her and watching her girls respond, you can see results … it was immediate, there was no hesitation, just watching her operate, that’s kind of how I wanted to operate.”

In his first season as head coach, Brenden Stowers has guided Simon Kenton to a 19-14 record and a Eighth Region championship. Photo provided | Marc Figgins

Simon Kenton earned its trip to Rupp Arena by knocking off 32nd District winner Grant County, 66-55 on Sunday. Brynli Pernell led the Pioneers with 18 points, Anna Kelch and Emilee Eggleston contributed 12 apiece, and Hayle Webb added 11; Kelch grabbed eight rebounds, and Webb added six.

Henderson County (26-4) dispatched Crittenden County, 71-53, Sunday at Union County. Brooklyn Gibson led the Lady Colonels with 15 points, Shalyn Sprinkles and Jarie Thomas each tossed in 14 points (Thomas grabbed 10 rebounds), and Graci Risley added another 11.

Brenden Stowers said Henderson County also prefers uptempo basketball, but it’s the emotions that could determine who wins.

“They’re pretty much at state every year, so the first thing is the nerves and the exciting nerves that our girls are going to have to fight off, which I don’t think Henderson is going to have to,” he said. “We’re not just going down there to play. We’re going down there to compete.”

Jeff Stowers will also be on Simon Kenton’s bench on Thursday, but he’s leaving the play-calling to his son.

“Everything this year has been all Brenden,” Jeff said. “I’m just there, a sounding board if he has to come and ask me anything. I haven’t said anything, I’ve kind of stayed back. 

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“I want everybody to know that this is his program. Everything that was done is all his.”

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