Being a scrappy player is one of many essential components that make up a strong Durango High School girls basketball team, and junior Kyle Rowland is at the center of it all this season.
The Demons (11-6, 2-0 5A/4A Southwestern League) are in the midst of a four-game winning streak and are 7-1 in the month of January. A large part of the team’s success is its defense.
Rowland’s statistics might not directly correlate with Durango’s success, as she averages just under four points per game, two rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. But her consistency has proved to be invaluable for the Demons. It’s the same consistency the Demons’ volleyball team has found from Rowland during her DHS career.
Durango girls basketball head coach Tim Fitzpatrick said Rowland has grown into a confident player. Now that she is an upperclassman, she has found her niche in doing the small things well to win games.
“I like to refer to Kyle as our glue stick,” Fitzpatrick said. “I feel that she really has grown a lot in her leadership skills. I have some senior leaders, but she’s a junior captain. I feel that she really helps bring everything together, and she’s consistent. She’s been a consistent performer on the basketball court, and there are a ton of things that don’t necessarily get into the stat book. She does the little things, and does a ton of them.”
Fresh off of a successful first weekend of play in league against Fruita Monument and Grand Junction, DHS will face another big test this weekend when it will host Montrose (14-2, 2-0 SWL) at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
In order for the Demons to extend the winning streak to five, Rowland believes defense is key.
“I think defense is our best offense right now, so we’re getting after it at the moment,” Rowland said. “I think we’ve made a ton of good defensive plays so far, and that’s what’s helped us score a lot on offense. It showed against Bayfield with the press, and also last weekend. Our defense definitely wins us games.”
Rowland, daughter of Brady and Greg Rowland, has shown her defensive prowess in multiple sports, as she was an outside hitter on the volleyball team and is a defender on the girls soccer team. She says her scrappy play is in her nature.
“I find joy in it,” Rowland said. “I like getting on the ground and wrestling people for those 50-50 balls. I think it’s fun being so scrappy on both sides, and I’m always trying to get after it. As far as growing, I hope to continue into next year and just never stop getting better.”
While Fitzpatrick said her defensive skills have always been strong, he has particularly noticed how Rowland has come into her own on offense.
“She’s got more composure, is looking to make plays and is looking to shoot,” the coach said. “I think she’s developed more confidence in taking actual game shots, but that’s where I’ve seen the most growth from her. ... She’s a big time fourth-quarter player. In that role, her responsibilities have evolved since she’s started playing, and that definitely comes with experience.”
While Rowland’s role has progressively evolved to a quiet leader, she is also trying to help her younger sister, Mason, to adjust to the speed of varsity games. Mason leads the team with 6.8 points per game and in rebounding at 4.5 per game. She hit the game-winning shot against Montrose in the championship game of the Aztec tournament at the beginning of January.
Kyle has helped Mason gain more confidence at the varsity level.
“We love each other, and it’s a really great chemistry,” Kyle said. “I’ve been waiting to play with Mason for three years now, so it’s great to have her out there with me, as well. I think going right from eighth grade to the high school level, it can be tough, but she’s definitely come a long way. Overall, our team chemistry is unmatched, and you can’t beat that.”
With Durango hoping to win a league title for the first time under Fitzpatrick, Rowland believes the Demons are a strong threat to pull off a shocker and snatch the title away from the Indians, who won the SWL last season.
“I want us to keep improving, and I definitely want to make a run in state and hopefully win league,” Kyle said. “That particularly has been a goal of mine for a long time. I think it’s about time to put another one up on the wall.”
Who music do you listen to before a game?:
My warmup song is “Temperature” by Sean Paul.
What’s your favorite sports movie?:
I love “Remember the Titans.”
Do you have a dream car?:
A Jeep Wrangler.
Who is your favorite professional athlete?:
Stephen Curry from the Golden State Warriors. Kobe Bryant is definitely up there. Both Kobe and Steph Curry are super strong advocates for girls basketball. They’re strong role models.
Where would you go if you could take a trip anywhere in the world?:
Definitely Hawaii. The beaches there seem cool, and I like being in the ocean.
If you had a superpower, what would it be and why?:
The ability to read minds because it would be cool to understand people a little better.
Which teacher has had the biggest impact on you?:
Mr. Todd Jolley. He’s my modern U.S. history teacher. You can connect really easily with him, and he knows how to connect with the students.
Who is your role model?:
My parents. They’ve always been there and have supported me in everything I’ve done, and I can’t thank them enough for that.