The Shawnee Braves used a stingy man-to-man defense Friday night to disrupt Kenton Ridge’s high-scoring offense, beating the Cougars 58-48 in a Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division contest.
“We knew we had to protect and cover the basket first and foremost,” said Shawnee coach Chris McGuire. “If they were going to hit shots, we were going to be in trouble. I thought we did a good job of rotating. We did a good job of getting out on shooters for the most part.”
»RELATED: Friday’s high school roundup
»RELATED: Friday’s high school scoreboard
Braves senior D.J. Hayden led the team with a game-high 20 points, including 14 in the second half, as Shawnee improved to 5-5 and 2-2 in the division and has won three straight games since starting the season 2-5.
“I’m really proud of the guys,” McGuire said. “We knew they had good players and had been playing really well lately. We knew a key for us was going to be controlling the tempo, limiting what they do offensively. We knew we had to do a good job of limiting possessions a little bit, controlling the possessions and show as much as we can defensively to make it tough on them.”
Kenton Ridge junior Tyler Eberhart had 19 points for the Cougars, while junior teammates Collin Perkins added 14 and Calvin Dibert scored 11.
The Braves controlled the tempo in the first half, jumping out to a 26-20 lead at the half. At the same time, Eberhart — the CBC’s leading scorer at 19.4 points per game — missed portions of the first half due to foul trouble.
Kenton Ridge used a full-court press to battled back to take the lead at 32-31 in the third quarter, but the Braves quickly retook the lead. Shawnee junior Isaac Siemon made a layup right before the buzzer to give the Braves a 37-34 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
Hayden pushed the Braves lead to 47-38 with about three minutes remaining, prompting a Kenton Ridge timeout.
“He played well in some big games for us last year, which I think has transitioned into this year,” McGuire said. “He kind of knows he’s the leader and has been part of that. We get him in scoring zones and he can really do some things with it.”
Siemon had 10 of his 15 points in the second half.
“Isaac and some other guys are starting to get a little more comfortable and understand the speed and physicality of the game,” McGuire said. “He’s only going to get better we hope.”
The Cougars pulled to within six points with about a minute remaining, but wouldn’t get any closer.
“It was a struggle for us offensively,” said Kenton Ridge coach Kris Spriggs. “We just made defensive mistakes. Every time we made a mistake, they capitalized. They made some tough shots. Obviously, the majority of their shots were layups. Those are high percentage shots for high school kids. We’ve got to go back to the drawing board and get back to what we were doing before.”
The Cougars (7-4, 3-2) host Northwestern on Tuesday before another key CBC Kenton Trail Division game at London (10-2, 4-1). Jonathan Alder (8-3, 4-1) beat the Red Raiders to take a share of the division lead. Kenton Ridge, who lost to London 49-37 on Dec. 7., is now one game back.
“We put our backs against the wall,” Spriggs said. “We’ve got to come out and compete, learn from this and get better.”