Cougars start the fourth on a 10-3 run never look back.
NEW CARLISLE — Danielle Franklin fooled Kenton Ridge once, but the Cougars made sure it didn’t happen again.
Franklin scored 46 points in a nine-point loss at Kenton Ridge on Dec. 13 and helped Tecumseh give the Cougars a scare. Tecumseh did give Kenton Ridge a scare again on Saturday night — for a while. But Kenton Ridge pulled away more easily this time.
The Cougars outscored Tecumseh 37-21 in the last 12 minutes to earn an 80-62 win at Reynolds Gymnasium. Kenton Ridge (13-4, 5-2 CBC Kenton) broke a two-game losing streak with the win.
Franklin still led Tecumseh in scoring, but points were harder to come by. She scored a game-high 22.
“Last time, Franklin had 25 points against us at halftime,” Kenton Ridge head coach Ed Foulk said after the game. “We did a pretty good job on Franklin. We didn’t let Franklin go uncontested like last time. We played man (defense) a lot last time, and we played more zone today. And we had people helping on Franklin more than we did last time.”
Kenton Ridge pulled away in the third quarter. The Cougars went on an 8-0 run late in the third to turn a two-point lead into a 51-41 lead.
After Tecumseh pulled within eight points by the end of the third, Kenton Ridge started the fourth on a 10-3 run through the first four minutes. Baylee Bennett hit two three-pointers during the run, her only two of the night. Tecumseh never trailed by less than 14 points the rest of the game.
“We needed to get back to playing together and not playing as individuals,” Bennett said. “… We came out in the second half and played hard and played as a team.”
Bennett led Kenton Ridge with 21 points, with 15 coming in the second half. Sydney Bates scored 20 for the Cougars, while Jamari McDavid led Kenton Ridge with 12 rebounds and scored 18 points. Aiana Wilson also added 11 points and six rebounds for Kenton Ridge. Kenton Ridge shot 30-of-52 (57.6 percent) from the field and outrebounded Tecumseh 33-28.
Foulk said Bennett’s second half scoring helped Kenton Ridge pull away.
“She starting shooting well, and she attacked the basket, too,” Foulk said. “She went right at it and got some easy shots.”
Bates averages 19.4 points per game for the Cougars, while McDavid averages 18 and Bennett averages 16.
“If our three big scorers score, we win,” Foulk said. “That’s about what it comes down to. They all did tonight. Jamari did a good job scoring inside and getting rebounds. And Sydney and Baylee did an outstanding job. They’re all veterans for us now. They know what they’ve got to do to win.”
Kenton Ridge had to refocus after losing two-straight games. The Cougars had won their previous ten. Kenton Ridge didn’t play well in either game, losing each by 12 or more points. The Cougars lost 75-60 to Tippecanoe on Jan. 14 and 54-42 to West Holmes last Saturday.
“We started getting into team ball again,” Bennett said. “Those last two losses on the road kind of upset us a little bit… everybody took those losses hard.”
The loss to Tippecanoe was Kenton Ridge’s second this season. The Red Devils lead the Kenton Trail with a 7-0 conference record. Kenton Ridge and Tecumseh were tied for second place entering Saturday’s game. Tecumseh (10-5, 4-3) drops to third with the loss.
The Cougars have five games left, and only one of their last five opponents has a winning record. Foulk said Kenton Ridge will use the last five games to get ready for the tournament.
The Cougars advanced to the Div. II regional finals last season. It won’t be an easy road to get back to the regionals. It won’t be an easy road to even get out of the sectional. Tippecanoe (17-0 overall), Eaton (15-3), and Carroll (11-5) are all in the same sectional with Kenton Ridge.
“We could play Tipp right off the bat,” Foulk said. “We’re not going to run from Tipp. Tipp will get the first seed, and then the rest of the bracket will break down with us, Carroll, and Eaton somewhere seeded two through four. I don’t want us to be in the same bracket with both Carroll and Eaton. We’ll have to see how everything works out.”
Lindsey Nartker scored 15 points and had nine rebounds for Tecumseh. Caroline Smith also scored 15 points, all on three-pointers. Ali Lee added 10 points and brought down 12 rebounds. Tecumseh shot 25-of-63 (39.6 percent) from the field.
Kenton Ridge jumped out to a 17-8 lead in the first quarter, but Tecumseh battled back. A three-pointer from Smith late in the second gave the Arrows a 27-25 lead. But Bates hit a free throw right before halftime to give the Cougars a 32-31 lead at halftime. Kenton Ridge outscored Tecumseh 48-31 in the second half.
Tecumseh next plays at home against Graham on Monday. Kenton Ridge travels to Indian Lake on Wednesday.
Baylee Bennett Postgame Interview | TBSN Video Extra
Kenton Ridge at Tecumseh Highlights | TBSN Video Extra