Baylee Bennett sparks Kenton Ridge comeback win with game-high 26 points.
SPRINGFIELD — Kenton Ridge point guard Baylee Bennett scored 19 first-half points and surpassed 1,000 career points on a three-pointer late in the second quarter. The Cougars needed every one of Bennett’s points on Wednesday night, as they were trailing Shawnee late in the second quarter.
Bennett’s three-pointer was more than a career milestone, though. It was a spark Kenton Ridge carried over into the second half. Bennett’s three-pointer was part of a 10-0 run that gave Kenton Ridge a 37-33 halftime lead. The Cougars kept the run going and outscored Shawnee 22-5 in the third quarter. Kenton Ridge never looked back and won the CBC Kenton Trail game 77-54.
Shawnee athletic director Steve Tincher presented Bennett with the ball after the game. She led the Cougars with a game-high 26 points on Wednesday.
“It’s just another point for me,” Bennett said. “I was just happy my team got the win.”
The milestone isn’t an unusual occurrence at Kenton Ridge. Longtime head coach Ed Foulk said the Cougars have had over 20 players score 1,000 or more points in the history of the program. Junior guard Sydney Bates surpassed 1,000 career points earlier this season.
“Some programs never have any 1,000 point scorers,” Foulk said. “But Baylee is more than a shooter. She is our best ball-handler and leads us with assists. Of course she can also shoot.”
It was that decisive third quarter scoring margin that made the difference. The Cougars led 59-38 going into the final period. Bennett’s performance was also aided by a double-double from Jamari McDavid. McDavid dominated in the post with 19 points and 17 rebounds.
“I think (Shawnee) got tired and I tend to pick up energy in the second half,” McDavid said. “I just try to jump as high as I can for the rebounds.”
The Cougars led 18-14 after the first period. The Braves hung around behind balanced scoring and good first half shooting. They led 33-27 with about a minute left in the second quarter.
Bennett surpassed 1,000 career points on her last shot in the first half. It tied the game at 33-33. The officials stopped the game briefly for recognition, and Kenton Ridge fans in attendance held up signs with “1,000” written on them.
Bates, Bennett, and McDavid are all scoring threats for the Cougars. Bates is second in the CBC with an average of 20 points per game. McDavid averages 18.4 points per game, and Bennett averages 18.1.
“If those three each score 20 points for us, we can play with most teams,” Foulk said.
McDavid also leads the conference in rebounding with just over 12 a game.
“Jamari is key for us,” Foulk said. “To make a good tournament run, you have to have a center playing well.”
Bates scored 11 points against Shawnee. Aianna Wilson had eight points, all in the second half.
Bennett has scored 85 points in her last three games, beginning with a career-high 41 point assault of Indian Lake on Jan. 28. She has bombed 14 treys in the three games. Wednesday marked the eighth time this season that Bennett has nailed at least four three-pointers in a game.
“I don’t let Baylee and Sydney leave practice until they have shot 100 three’s”, Foulk said.
Shawnee was led by Alyssa Garberich, who hit four three-pointers and had a team-high 17 points.
Shawnee head coach Blake Garberich said after the game that he thought Kenton Ridge wore Shawnee out in the second half.
“I think we worked so hard in that first half that when we came out in the third quarter, we were still tired,” Garberich said. “We kind of lost a little focus in the third quarter. I’m really proud of the way we played in that first half. I wish we could have maintained it in the second half. We’ve definitely improved since the first time we played them this season.”
Shawnee (10-9, 3-6) travels to Southeastern tonight and then hosts Graham on Saturday.
Kenton Ridge (16-4, 7-2), who is anticipating a high seed in the upcoming sectional tournament draw this Sunday, next plays host to Urbana on Saturday.
“After Tipp, there should be three of us (along with Carroll and Eaton) with the next three seeds,” Foulk said. “With our schedule we think it should say something.”
Kenton Ridge’s losses have come to undefeated Tippecanoe, Division I power Olentangy, and defending Division II state champion Millersburg West Holmes.
Baylee Bennett game ball presentation | TBSN Video Extra