Listed at 5-foot-6 on the Kenton Ridge girls basketball roster, senior Baylee Bennett was often one of the smaller players on the court.
Few, though, overshadowed Bennett. She stood tall again Tuesday as Kenton Ridge’s seventh Pam Evans Smith Miss Basketball winner at the 27th annual Clark County Girls Basketball banquet at Wittenberg University’s Shouvlin Center.
Bennett set several records, mostly from 3-point range, but her biggest contribution was ball handling. The tenacious senior broke presses and drove Kenton Ridge to the Division II regional semifinals and a 22-5 record.
“We’ll definitely miss her ball handling and 3s,” Kenton Ridge coach Ed Foulk said. “When she was on it was tough for teams to stop her.”
Among her accomplishments, Bennett set Kenton Ridge records for 3-pointers in a career (202), season (84) and game (10). Her 86.4 free-throw percentage during the regular season is also a program best. The Cincinnati Christian University recruit averaged 18.9 points, 4.9 assists and 2.2 steals.
“I think the main thing this year for us was her leadership on the floor,” Foulk said. “Ball handling was so important to us this year. When team’s pressed us Baylee usually got it up the floor.”
Bennett was joined on the coaches’ All-County team by teammates Sydney Bates and Jamari McDavid. That brings Kenton Ridge’s All-County total to 56.
“When it comes down to it Baylee is one of the better basketball players that’s been at Kenton Ridge,” Foulk said. “She has all the other attributes that go to the Miss Basketball award, the leadership and the academics.”
Joining the trio of Cougars on the All-County team were Greenon’s Taylor Burson, Northeastern’s Brittany Ruhe, Northwestern’s Korynne Berner, Shawnee’s Kyla Driskill, Southeastern’s Lexie Perry and Tecumseh’s Danielle Franklin and Lindsey Nartker.
Foulk and former Southeastern coach Kari Kitchen shared coach of the year honors. It was the third time for Foulk (2014, 2011) and third for Kitchen, who won it in 2009 and 2010 with Northeastern.