Every season is like a puzzle with different pieces, said Kenton Ridge High School coach Kris Spriggs.
“You’ve to got see how they fit within your puzzle,” he said.
Midway through the season, the Cougars’ puzzle is starting to come together.
»RELATED: Wednesday’s high school roundup
»RELATED: Wednesday’s high school scoreboard
Since falling at Southeastern 59-55 on Dec. 27, the Cougars (7-3, 3-1 Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division) have won three straight games, including a 54-45 victory over division rival Jonathan Alder on Jan. 4. Kenton Ridge trailed by five in the third quarter and eventually found itself up seven points, said Cougars coach Kris Spriggs.
“We just stuck with it and played a complete game,” Spriggs said. “Defensively, we did a nice job making them shoot over top of us. Offensively, we were pretty efficient.”
The Cougars earned another hard-earned victory on Tuesday against Graham, beating the Falcons 74-73 in double overtime.
This year, the Cougars have three players over 6-foot-5, a change from last year’s guard-oriented offense. They’re led by 6-foot-7 junior Tyler Eberhart, who is scoring 19.4 points per game, tops in the CBC.
It hasn’t gone unnoticed by opposing coaches, who are using all kinds of zone defenses — box-and-1, diamond-and-1 and a triangle-and-2 — to keep him from scoring. It’s been different players stepping up each night in the Cougars’ eight-man rotation, Spriggs said.
“Everyone has been contributing,” he said. “It’s a good group of kids. I look forward to getting into the gym and practicing. Hopefully, we can keep it rolling.”
London (10-1, 4-0) leads the division, but both the Cougars and Pioneers (7-3, 3-1) are one game back. The Red Raiders travel to Jonathan Alder on Friday.
The Cougars face Shawnee on Friday night in one of the area’s biggest rivalry games.
“It’s always a good atmosphere,” Spriggs said. “(Shawnee coach Chris McGuire) does a nice job. We have to make sure we come ready to play. … We’re going to get their best shot. We have to make sure we show up, too.”
The key down the stretch will be consistency, Spriggs said.
“We’ve kind of been on a rollercoaster,” he said. “We go through stretches where we play well in a game and then we don’t play well. We’ve got to get that consistent level throughout 32 minutes.”
Big game: Urbana (6-3, 3-1) has a chance to take a share of first-place of the CBC Mad River Division on Friday night. The Hillclimbers, the defending Mad River Division champions, host first-place Benjamin Logan (8-3, 4-0). Urbana has won two straight since dropping their only CBC game of the season to Graham on Dec. 21.
Prolific matchup: About 100 tickets remain for the Saturday, Jan. 19 session of the Flyin to the Hoop Invitational, which includes Springfield (7-3) facing Prolific Prep (Calif).
Prolific Prep’s roster includes five players 6-foot-7 or taller, including 7-footer Ibrahima Diallo. The Crew are 21-3 this season. Tickets can be purchased at FlyinToTheHoop.com .
The Wildcats host Wayne on Friday night.
D-IV showdown: Two of the top Division IV teams in the area will face-off on Saturday night in Springfield when Emmanuel Christian (8-2) travels to Catholic Central (9-2).
Last season, the Irish beat the Lions 67-61 in overtime. Catholic Central advanced to the D-IV regional semifinals, while Emmanuel Christian was a district runner-up.