Varsity Xtra: Rowan siblings a red-hot hoops act

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Ron Rowan often watches -- and many times oversees -- basketball workouts for his two oldest children.

Dad won't let Madi Rowan and her younger brother, Maverick, play against each other, however, because that's when the brother-sister act becomes the brother-sister spat.

"They can play for about a minute, maybe two minutes at the max before they start fighting and maybe a few punches fly," Ron Rowan said.

But while the Rowans might need to be separated at times, it is when Madi and Maverick Rowan go their separate ways that they pack the biggest punch.

The Rowans play for different schools, but have become one of the best brother-sister acts in WPIAL basketball in a number of years. They are teenagers, but in their 20s on basketball courts. Both are averaging more than 20 points a game and are among the top scorers in the WPIAL.

Maverick, 16, is a 6-foot-5 1/2, 180-pound guard who is making a gigantic impact on the Lincoln Park boys team, even though he is a freshman. He is a sharpshooter who scores 22.9 points a game, the sixth-highest average in the WPIAL. He averages three 3-pointers a game, had seven in one contest and five in another. But what else would you expect from someone whose parents (Ron and Tara Rowan) named him after the character in the 1980s movie "Top Gun?"

Some Division I colleges already have expressed interest in Maverick, who shoots 88 percent from the free-throw line.

Madi, 18, also attends Lincoln Park in Midland (Beaver County). But because Lincoln Park doesn't have a girls team, she plays for Central Valley High School. The Rowan family lives in Center Township, part of the Central Valley district. Madi is a 5-foot-9 senior guard who is averaging 20.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.6 steals. She shoots 75 percent from the free-throw line.

Madi is getting some interest from Division I colleges and also from Division II schools.

For certain, these two M&Ms have been sweet for their teams.

"It's a pretty fun time for our family," Ron Rowan said. "It's a little crazy, going to a game almost every night, but it's a lot of fun."

Even though the two Rowans have trouble playing basketball against each other, they are extremely close, bonded by the sport. Madi calls Maverick her "best friend. We're always together."

Madi attended Hopewell as a sophomore and junior when her father was Hopewell's boys basketball coach. She went to Central Valley last year, but decided to attend Lincoln Park this year to be closer to her brother.

"Lincoln Park has been wonderful," Madi said. "I just decided to go there to be with him my senior year."

But while the two are excelling in basketball, the sport wasn't always their top priority. Even though Maverick was talented enough as a kindergarten student to play on a fourth-grade team, he had more of a penchant for football when he was younger.

"But I kind of grew out of it when I started following basketball more. Football doesn't interest me as much any more," Maverick said.

Ron said, "As he got taller and longer, it seemed basketball would fit him more."

Madi was more into dancing in her younger years before starting to get serious about basketball in eighth grade.

"My mom was a dancer, so she kind of brought me into that, but I figured that wasn't where I was supposed to be," Madi Rowan said. "I never felt forced to play basketball. As I became older, I just started playing for the love of the game."

As the Rowans' love for basketball grew, so did their talent. But athletic talent is in their genes. Their father was a star guard at Beaver Falls in the early 1980s and went on to play at Notre Dame and then St. John's. In 1986, Ron Rowan made the winning shot in the final seconds to give St. John's a victory against Syracuse in the Big East Conference championship game.

Ron had a cup of coffee with the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers, playing in seven games in the 1986-87 season, then had a long, successful career overseas. Also, the Rowans' uncle, Troy Ridgley, was a star football player at Ambridge who played at Notre Dame.

"My dad has meant everything to me," Maverick said. "All the stuff I've learned is from him -- and him only."

In the summer, Madi and Maverick have regular workouts together, many times with their father running the workouts. They might work out in the family garage, or at Lincoln Park's gym, or at a gym in the back of the Beaver County Auto Mall in Monaca, where legendary former Blackhawk coach John Miller runs workouts for kids.

"We have a key to that gym, so we can go in there whenever we want," Maverick Rowan said.

They just can't play one-on-one. It will end up ugly.

"Their personalities are very competitive," Ron Rowan said. "They want to win. They want to do well."

Although Maverick and Madi have made for a hit brother-sister act, maybe there will be two more Rowans playing basketball someday in the WPIAL. Mylan, 7, and Mason, 6, are Ron and Tara Rowan's youngest sons.

"You know what, they have some really different personalities," Madi said, "but I'm sure they'll be into basketball soon enough."

Just like big brother and big sister.

Peter Diana/Post-Gazette photo illustration

Lincoln Park's Maverick Rowan and Central Valley's Madi Rowan both average more than 20 points per game.

All in the family

Here are some other brother-sister acts that were highly successful in WPIAL-City League basketball:


Dan, Mike, Matt and Jeannie were all standouts for the Warriors. Jeannie, Mike and Dan all scored 1,000 career points at Penn-Trafford and Dan played at Robert Morris.


Nate, Zach and sister, Beka, all scored 1,000 points in their careers and are now playing at Washington & Jefferson College. Rachel and Tina are current Fort Cherry players.


After playing at South Hills in the City League, Kirk Bruce went on to become a starter on Pitt's 1974 team that made it to the NCAA Elite Eight. Jennifer played at Carrick and was one of the best players in Pitt women's history.


Swin Cash is one of the best players to come out of Western Pennsylvania and went on to win NCAA championships, WNBA titles and Olympic gold medals. Her brothers, Steve and Kevin, also were talented players. Steve was a P-G Fabulous 5 pick at McKeesport and Kevin was a big scorer at South Allegheny.


Denise was one of the first girls basketball stars in the WPIAL in the mid 1970s, helping the team to a PIAA title game. She had five older brothers who played various sports. Bobby was a guard on some excellent teams at South Hills Catholic (now Seton-LaSalle) in the early 1970s


Joy was the star player on WPIAL and PIAA championship teams in 1985, and twin brother, Jay, was a standout on the Beaver Falls boys WPIAL championship teams of 1984 and '85. Older brother, Carliss, was one of the top reserves on a WPIAL championship team in 1980 and went on to play at Tennessee-Chattanooga.


This family has three 1,000-point scorers already. Bill and Jodie were stars a few years ago and scored 1,000. Twins Ryan and Collin are now juniors for Hampton and Ryan went over 1,000 last week. Molly also played for Hampton and graduated last year.


The McConnell house in Brookline was full of players in the 1970s and 80s who later became coaches. Suzie is one of the all-time greats from Western Pennsylvania while sisters Kathy (University of Virginia) and Maureen (Pitt) both played Division I basketball. Oldest son, Tom, played Division I at Davidson and brother, Tim, had a good career at Waynesburg.


Jim McCoy was a Central Catholic star in the late 1980s who went on to become the leading scorer on a University of Massachusetts team that made the NCAA tournament under John Calipari. Monique played at Penn Hills and made the P-G Fabulous 5.


Pam, Dave and Matt all were forces during their days at Franklin Regional in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Pam and Matt both went on to play at Pitt while Dave played at Carnegie Mellon.


Sean, Archie and Lisa were all-state point guards, 1,000-point scorers and WPIAL champions. Sean and Archie were coached by their father, John. Sean played at Pitt, Archie at North Carolina State and Lisa at Toledo and Elon.

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For more on high school sports, go to "Varsity Blog" at Mike White: Twitter @mwhiteburgh


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