KR girls rolling, but tourney road could be tough

Kenton Ridge senior forward Jamari McDavid dribbles down the court during a nonconference game against Southeastern on Nov. 25. McDavid averages 26 points and nine rebounds per game for the Cougars, who open tournament play on Monday. BRYANT BILLING / CONTRIBUTED
Caption
Kenton Ridge senior forward Jamari McDavid dribbles down the court during a nonconference game against Southeastern on Nov. 25. McDavid averages 26 points and nine rebounds per game for the Cougars, who open tournament play on Monday. BRYANT BILLING / CONTRIBUTED

Kenton Ridge has been a staple in the Division II district finals this decade. But if the Cougars want to keep their long streak going, they’ll have to cut down on turnovers.

Tournament play starts for most area teams this weekend, though the No. 4 seed Cougars will have to wait until Monday night for their postseason opener against No. 11 Eaton at Tecumseh’s Reynolds Gymnasium.

Kenton Ridge (14-8) has won seven consecutive sectional titles and advanced at least as far as the districts each year. It will be hard for the team to stretch the streak to eight years with No. 1 seed Carroll (18-4) in the same bracket.

But coach Ed Foulk is pleased with Kenton Ridge’s progress and believes the team could earn another district final berth. The Cougars won seven of their last nine regular season games, with the losses coming by single digits to Tecumseh (20-2) and Cedarville (18-3).

“We’re playing better right now than we’ve played all year,” Foulk said. “We’re getting a little bit better from the guard standpoint and having less turnovers. But the two studs have to produce.”

Those studs are senior forward Jamari McDavid and junior center Mikala Morris. McDavid averages 26.5 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, while Morris averages 19.9 points and 16.8 rebounds per game. The duo has been tough for opponents to stop, but Kenton Ridge has helped opposing teams by averaging 18.3 turnovers per game.

That can’t happen in the tournament according to Foulk, and he said improved ball-handling and passing from guards is needed. He said he’s seen improvement in the second half of the season, particularly from junior guard Desiree Jones, who’s averaged 15 points over Kenton Ridge’s last seven games.

If the Cougars get by Eaton, they’ll face either Benjamin Logan or Bellefontaine in a second-round game, both of which they beat in regular season. Carroll likely would be the sectional final opponent.

• Tecumseh’s first tournament game is Saturday at Troy against Miamisburg. The Arrows earned the fourth seed in the Dayton Division I sectional after compiling a 20-2 regular season record, and they’ll try to earn their second consecutive district final berth.

The Arrows have had plenty of time to prepare for the postseason — they haven’t played since a 79-24 win over Bellefontaine on Feb. 8.

“We should be rested up, and our offense and defense should be crisp,” Tecumseh coach Danielle Thomas said. “The girls have been playing well and are confident, and if we play hard and smart, we’ll be fine.”

Tecumseh beat Miamisburg by 18 points in a nonconference game on Jan. 23.

• Southeastern earned the highest seed of Clark County’s Div. IV schools and still has plenty of time to prepare for the tournament. The Trojans (15-6) will face the winner of Yellow Springs and Bradford next Wednesday at Brookville.

With a win, the Trojans will likely face either No. 2 Covington or No. 3 Miami Valley in a sectional final.

“We’ve played really well in spurts, but we go through long stretches where we don’t do things so well,” Southeastern coach P.J. Bertemes said. “We can play with almost any team, but we have to have consistent, positive effort from everybody from start to finish.”

About the Author