Sophomore center scores 15 points in fourth quarter to help Kenton Ridge run away from Trojans.
SOUTH CHARLESTON — Kenton Ridge struggled against a persistent Southeastern in the first half of a season opener on Friday. The Cougars needed a way to put the Trojans away in the second half. They found the way in Jamari McDavid.
McDavid, a sophomore center, scored all of her 19 points in the second half (including 15 in the fourth quarter) to help lead Kenton Ridge to a 64-39 win over Southeastern.
“I calmed down as the game went on,” McDavid said. “Once my team started playing together and talking more, I just got into the game.”
McDavid used her height and superior jumping ability against the smaller Trojans in the second half. Southeastern couldn’t stop her. She made five of six field goal attempts in the second half and five of six free-throw attempts.
“I don’t think there’s another post player around here that’s as good as she is athletically,” Kenton Ridge head coach Ed Foulk said. “She’s a game-changer. She can out jump anybody on the floor. We’ve got a great post presence with her.”
McDavid sat most of the first half after getting in foul trouble early. The Cougars struggled defensively without McDavid early as Southeastern scored inside. Southeastern jumped out to an 11-4 lead four minutes into the first quarter.
“At first I thought I could block everybody’s shot because of how high I can jump,” McDavid said. “Then I started second-guessing myself. The ref’s were calling pretty close, so I had to step back instead of going for the block, and I got two fouls quick.”
Kenton Ridge’s offense picked up after a timeout midway through the first. Sydney Bates hit two back-to-back baskets in the last 50 seconds of the first quarter to give Kenton Ridge a 15-13 lead.
Southeastern made six of eight free-throw attempts in the second quarter and retook the lead with two minutes left. The Cougars responded and scored the last six points of the second. Aiana Wilson hit a basket at the buzzer to cap off the run and give Kenton Ridge a 25-21 lead at halftime.
The Cougars continued their run in the third. Bates scored seven points in the middle part of the quarter to help Kenton Ridge take a nine-point lead. The stage was set in the fourth for McDavid’s dominating performance. The Cougars outscored the Trojans 23-7 in the fourth quarter.
“She can get 15 points every quarter,” Foulk said of McDavid. “She was averaging 39 points a game in scrimmages. She’s a difference-maker. When she can do that every quarter, who can stop her? She can jump and touch the rim. She can jump higher than any post player I’ve ever had.”
Baylee Bennett led Kenton Ridge with 21 points. Bennett hit five three-pointers in the game, including two in the fourth quarter. Bates finished with 16 points, all of which came in the first three quarters.
Foulk said he was proud of how Bates and Bennett led the team while McDavid was on the bench. Bates and Bennett are Kenton Ridge’s two top returning leading scorers.
“We’ve got to get some scoring out of our other girls,” Foulk said. “We’ve got to get some scoring out of them for us to be real tough because (opponents) can just concentrate on our big three (players) right now.”
Kenton Ridge plays Olentangy on Sunday afternoon in the Gary West Tipoff Classic at Reynoldsburg. Foulk said the game will be a tough early test for the Cougars.
“We still have some work to do,” Foulk said. “We called some plays tonight, and the girls looked at us like ‘huh?’ a few times, but it’s the first game. It’s tough to get that first game out of the way. For our first game out, we’re happy.”
McDavid said the Cougars are motivated to succeed again this year. Kenton Ridge went 26-2 last season and advanced to the regional finals in Div. II.
“I hope that we can go far,” McDavid said. “But people are saying we’re not as good because we lost two good players from last year. But I think if we can play together and work hard, we can make it.”
Jessica Erwin led Southeastern with 14 points. Southeastern shot 10-of-20 from the free-throw line in the game, including 0-of-6 in the second half.