A first round exit in last year’s post-season didn’t sit well with the Kenston Bombers.
They spent the off-season focused on putting that disappointment behind them and on Friday they opened the 2016-2017 season with a dominating 76-34 win at Ravenna.
“It was extremely important for me and the team to get off to a good start this season,” said senior guard Josh Kain, who scored a game-high 22 points. “Last year left a bad taste in our mouths and we all have been waiting for this moment and worked really hard in the off-season since then to get back on the court. We wanted to prove a statement tonight and glad we got the W.”
Kain was 4-for-4 from behind the 3-point arc and also hit all four of his free throw attempts in the win.
His 13-point second quarter helped the Bombers to take a 38-18 lead at the break.
“It's always nice to get the first one,” said Kenston coach Matt Vespa. “Josh did an awesome job for us. We definitely played with some nerves. You could tell he was our lone returning starter and he kind of stepped up and carried us in the beginning until everybody got comfortable and we played like we were capable of playing.”
Junior forward Ryan Kooser scored five of his 15 points in the first half and10 of Kenston’s 23 points in the third quarter to spark the Bombers in the second half.
“Our team had great ball movement that created open shots along with some good defensive pressure that opened up some easy scoring,” Kooser said.
Vespa was pleased to see Kain and Kooser assert their will early in the game.
“We're going to need to be a team that has multiple guys in double figures. Josh is going to get his. Kooser is a guy I think is going to have a big year for us. He hit some shots. He plays inside and out, so he was able to do both for us. He got significant varsity minutes last year,” Vespa said. “You can tell the guys that have been there before. They were kind of ready to go from the beginning where some of the other guys helped us out a lot but there were nerves and excitement and we tried to do some things that we normally don't do, like try to make a spectacular play instead of the basic play. Those guys really helped us in the beginning get over that.”
Juniors Ben Batista and Michael Swartz each contributed with seven points while senior Brian Henderson, junior Elijah Singleton and sophomore Ryan Long all pitched in with six. Senior Justin Stratton and junior Kee-Shaun Merrill both had a bucket and senior Braden Wyers closed out Kenston’s scoring with a fourth quarter free throw.
Henderson helped keep the Bombers in control on the offensive end.
“He did a great job of kind of controlling the game,” Vespa said. “He's another captain of ours and he set the tone with how we wanted to do things. It was really nice to have some guys I could really rely on, especially at the guard position.”
The Bombers return to action on Friday when they host Gilmour Academy.