In a season with far fewer wins than Shawnee is accustomed to, the Braves won four of seven in January starting with an overtime win at Kenton Ridge. But injuries hit and the Braves lost close games to Tecumseh and Indian Lake.
The Braves needed a spark Friday night against Kenton Ridge, which came to Shawnee with an enthusiastic student section that belies the Cougars’ winless season.
The spark was junior guard Aaron Schack. He didn’t play in those last two losses because of a concussion, and he didn’t start Friday. But he scored 11 straight points during the middle of the first half to start the Braves on their way to a 53-42 Central Buckeye Conference win over the Cougars.
“He played with confidence after being out, and that’s what we needed,” Braves coach Chris McGuire said. “He provides a spark for us. He’s kind of that energizer guy that gives effort offensively and defensively all the time and is that scrappy kid.”
Schack made two 3-pointers in his personal run and finished with 15 points to lead the Braves (6-12, 5-5 CBC Kenton Trail). Shack’s final bucket of the run pushed the Braves’ lead to 18-10.
“He got a layup early which I think was really important for him,” McGuire said. “After being off for a week or so, it takes a little bit to get back in the groove. Once you get confidence sometimes it just takes you.”
The halftime lead grew to 23-14 as the Braves shut off the penetration of Kenton Ridge guards Jameel Cosby and Michael Baker.
Billy Lord added 14 points and D.J. Hayden 12 for Shawnee.
“It was a complete team win,” McGuire said. “We had to have a collective effort. It wasn’t about who was going to do it. We just had to get the job done.”
The Cougars (0-18, 0-11) were resilient in the second half with their student section getting loud right behind their bench. It didn’t matter to the players or the fans that they faced a losing streak that would reach 20 with another loss. They didn’t care that their last win was almost a year ago against Stebbins. They had already lost 10 games by single digits, so they made a fourth-quarter run.
Trailing 37-26, Cosby sparked a quick run to cut the Braves’ lead to 37-33 with 5:08 left. Just as quickly the Braves’ Hayden scored seven straight points in 48 seconds and the lead was 44-33. Seven was as close as the Cougars could get in the final four minutes.
Cosby led the Cougars with 18 points and Baker scored 13.
The Braves have now won 13 straight against Kenton Ridge. The last time the Cougars beat the Braves was in 2011.