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Cougars’ Bates heats up against Stebbins

Sydney Bates feared the worst. A designated scorer for the Kenton Ridge High School girls basketball team, suddenly she had lost her shooting touch.

“My shot was off,” she said. “It was off in warm-ups. It was off in my JV quarter. Actually, I couldn’t make anything this morning (in a shoot-around), either.”

But Bates found her range when it counted most. She poured in a career-high five treys and scored a game-high 23 points in a 67-25 dismantling of host Stebbins on Saturday afternoon.

The blowout improved Kenton Ridge to 18-1 overall and bumped its Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Division record to 9-0. Stebbins, led by first-year head coach and former Wittenberg University men’s assistant Al Cridge, fell to 11-8 overall and 2-7 in the division.

Ridge coach Ed Foulk feared Stebbins would provide a tough task. A 14-1 start to the game proved otherwise.

With Bates’ frequent first-half bombs and emerging freshman Jamari McDavid ruling underneath, the Cougars won their 11th straight game.

That likely secured a high seed in the upcoming tournament.

“I’m proud of them,” conceded Foulk. “They’ve done a great job. I was worried about (Stebbins). We didn’t play well the other night and didn’t shoot well. Our defense clamped down a little more.”

Stebbins never recovered from that early offensive funk. Kailey Seaquist and Briana Williams — both seniors — each scored 10 points to lead the Indians in their final home game.

McDavid added 13 points for Kenton Ridge. Baylee Bennett and Stefanie Davis tallied nine points apiece.

“They’re a really good team, A,” Cridge said. “And B, if they hit shots, they’re a great team.”

Cridge spent the previous 11 seasons by head coach Bill Brown’s side at Witt. Prior to that he was the boys head coach at Carroll, then Oakwood. He succeeded Ron Coleman with the Indians.

Cridge’s entire teaching career has been with the Mad River Local Schools. What Foulk has established with the Cougars is what Cridge envisions for the Indians.

“There seems to be an elite group of programs right now that are really, really hard to play,” Cridge said. “Everyone else you play even and fight and claw and maybe win a game. Our trick here is to find out how to get our program to become a program like that.”

Kenton Ridge hosts Xenia on Monday and is at Graham on Thursday. Its regular-season finale is next Saturday at Tippecanoe. The Cougars edged the Red Devils 54-52 in their first matchup.

“We’re using all these games to get ready for our big game against Tipp,” assured Bates.

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