Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Bombers sneak past Wildcats in OT

Kenston’s 67-59 overtime win at Mayfield on Friday was filled with drama.

The Bombers jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first half then saw the Wildcats pull ahead by nine midway through the fourth quarter. Kenston rallied to force overtime then pulled away in the extra frame to improve to 6-3 overall and 3-1 in the Western Reserve Conference.

“We kind of feel like it shouldn't have been an overtime game, but we'll take it any way we can get it,” said Kenston coach Matt Vespa. “Mayfield was up by nine with about four minutes and 30 seconds left, so I'm sure they feel like it shouldn't have been an overtime game either.”

Kenston led 18-13 after the first eight minutes of play and Vespa saw some early signs that his team could have some trouble later in the game.

“Eleven of their 13 came off of offensive rebounds in the first quarter,” he said. “We should have been up big and didn’t take care of it.”

Momentum shifted to the Wildcats in the third quarter as they pulled to within 44-42 heading into the final eight minutes.

Kenston’s shooters went cold and the Wildcats built a nine-point lead with just over four minutes left in the game.

“With a good team like Mayfield, with the guys they've got, you can't let them hang around if you've got an opportunity to put them away,” Vespa said. “We played well but they started making some shots in the third quarter and we went into a rut, but it was nice to see us bounce back from that.”

That bounce back started when Kee-shaun Merrill and Brian Henderson converted and-ones and Josh Kain hit a 3-pointer to give the Bombers the lead.

“Those were huge for us,” Vespa said. “Those guys really stepped up and made plays at the end. We played 10 or 11 guys in the first half and everyone made a real contribution. In the second half we tried to keep it tight. Brian came in and made a great play and so did Kee-shaun. We had to come out of our zone for a little bit and play some man-to-man. They have a really good scorer, Julian Hicks, who scores about 25 per game. Kee-shaun kept him in check for a little bit, which let us play man to get back into the game. We held him to 11, which was really nice.”

Ryan Kooser led Kenston with a game-high 26 points.

“There's nothing a basketball player wants more than winning and to do that in extra time is one of the best feelings you can have,” Kooser said. “Our coaches prepared us with a solid game plan and my teammates were able to find a way to get the ball to me.”

Kain finished with 22, Henderson pitched in with 11 and Michael Swartz finished with six for the Bombers.

Josh Gibson led Mayfield with 18. Aaron Hicks had 12 and Rashann Early contributed with eight for the Wildcats, who dropped to 1-6, 1-3.

Kenston 67, Mayfield 59

Kenston: (6-3, 3-1): Kooser 26, Henderson 11, Swartz 6, Stratton 1, Merrel 4, Kain 22, Batista 2
Mayfield (1-6, 1-3): Favazzo 6, Early 8, Hughes 4, Julian Hicks 11, Aaron Hicks 12, Gibson 18

Kenston 18 13 13 13 10 67
Mayfield 13 8 21 15 2 59

Field goals: Visitor 20-54, Home 16-40; Free throws: Visitor 18 of 23 , Home 12 of 23 ; 3-pointers: Visitor 5 (Early 2) Home 8 (Kain 4) Rebounds: Visitor 24 (Kooser 7), Home 32 (Gibson 10); JV: Kenston 61, Mayfield 46     

Steve Harehttp://www.ohiovarsity.com
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes OhioVarsity.com, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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