DECATUR — Eisenhower point guard Cameron Rowe takes it as a point of pride that he led the team in charges last season.
That's the type of player Rowe is — fiery, passionate and not afraid to sacrifice his body for the cause.
"I like to take charges. (Panthers' assistant coach Terry Cook) preaches charges and I led the team last year and that's what I want to do this year," Rowe said.
That impassioned play was evident Friday as the Panthers faced Mount Zion in the 50th edition of the Decatur Turkey Tournament. Rowe led the team with nine points in the first half (finishing with 13) as his aggressive defensive play, in part, led to 14 Braves turnovers. It was a marked improvement from the team's loss to Peoria in the opening round of the tournament.
"We executed really well today and I feel like we played as a unit this time. I think we had some first game jitters so were were out of contact. We didn't know what was going on," Rowe said. "We had a good practice the other day and we went over what we had done wrong. Today, we came out as a family."
Eisenhower's three key guards, Rowe, Brylan Phillips and RJ Walker, are as close as family having been teammates together for years and the key for the Panther is the unselfish play between "The Big 3."
"We just get out and run. (Coach Walker) says no matter who gets the ball, we all can push the ball," Rowe said. "Our team is very unselfish. If someone has an off night, someone else can pick up right behind us.
"I don't really care how many points I get as long as we get the win and I do what I need to do."
Rowe sports a bright blonde streak in his hair and you will find him streaking down the court full speed. While Phillips and Walker handle the ball in half-court play, Rowe gets the call in the full court and he's dangerous.
"(Cam)'s very good when the game is going up and down (the court). In the full-court set, he is deadly," Walker said. "We need his fire and emotion. To see him fired up on defense and offense, it gets the other guys going, too. As a senior, he is vocal and that carries over to the group."
The no-look pass from Rowe to his teammates is a trademark.
"That's just knowledge. I've been playing for a long time and so I know where my teammates are at all times. That's what you've got to do as a point guard," he said.
Rowe is one of just two seniors on the young Panthers' roster this season and Walker looks to Rowe to lead this season.
"With it being his senior year I want him to go out with a bang. This is it — there is no tomorrow," Walker said. "(Cam) finished up last year with some good games and I expect him to carry that on this season."
Academically, Rowe was recently accepted to the University of Memphis, leaving his basketball future up in the air, but he is making the most of his final Turkey Tournament appearances.
"This is my last year here in the Turkey Tournament and I love it. The environment and everybody around. We all come together as a family and we just play," Rowe said. "I feel like I played today how I should play every game. We have to keep our foot on (our opponent's) neck no matter what. I'm a senior and a captain and I've got to lead the team."
Rowe also hopes to instill some lessons on his younger teammates before graduating.
Said Rowe: "Always listen to Coach Walker. He knows exactly what he is talking about. Play 100 percent every time you are out there. If you make a mistake, get back on defense because that is what we preach."
Contact Matthew Flaten at (217) 421-6968. Follow him on Twitter: @MattFlaten
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