By Thomas Becker
In a league fueled by phenomenal guard play, the UPEI Panthers added two guards hoping to come in and leave their mark with the reigning AUS champions and U SPORTS bronze medalists.
The decision to join UPEI was an easy one for Millcove, PE's own Devon Lawlor. Once she dons the green and white for the first time later this year, Lawlor will be a third-generation Panther.
"It's kind of a tradition for my family," Lawlor said. "My grandfather played for Saint Dunstan's and my aunt and uncle and parents all played for UPEI."
Head coach Matt Gamblin had the chance to work with Lawlor in various camps since coming to PEI and adding her to the roster was a no-brainer.
"I've been very impressed with her work-ethic and drive to get better. Devon has improved a lot throughout her high school career and will adjust well to the increased competition of the AUS and of her teammates every day in practice."
As Charlottetown Rural's featured guard, Lawlor and the Raiders captured their third consecutive provincial title in mid-March. She was also named the tournament's most valuable player.
Lawlor brings with her toughness and defensive focus, which should excite Gamblin, whose team is built on those fundamentals. She also attacks the basket well and continues to improve her three-point stroke.
"It's exciting to join this team," Lawlor said. "It's exciting to join a team with a lot of potential and it's exciting to know I can practice among great players and work to become one of those players."
Alicia Bowering is another guard who could help complement MVP Jenna Mae Ellsworth and all-star Reese Baxendale. At 5-foot-8, the Orangeville, ON native brings size and athleticism to the backcourt which has been a recipe for success for this team, especially on the defensive end.
"Alicia has a strong work ethic and a drive to improve which are two of the most important qualities we look for in student-athletes," Gamblin said. "She will be able to come in and use her athleticism to make an impact on the defensive end from Day 1."
Offensively, Bowering has the speed and agility to drive through defences, but also has the range to keep them honest with her three-point touch.
"I'm an unselfish player that looks to penetrate and create plays and open looks for my teammates," said the former Tri-County Soldier standout. "I also have the ability to step outside and shoot the three-ball."
Coming from a smaller town herself, Bowering said she's excited to join a tight-knit community and team that's coming off their first championship in 22 years.
"I feel very honoured to be joining such a high-level team that has so many tremendous accomplishments," she said. "I am very excited for this new chapter, being given the opportunity to play on a championship team, and to be able to learn and grow both as a player and person."