- Jeff Gilbert Contributing Writer
All the Kenton Ridge boys basketball team wanted in time for Christmas this year was a number greater than zero in the win column.
The number 2 feels great even after an 86-71 loss at home Friday night to Urbana, which hasn’t had a losing season since 2008.
The reason for the good feeling this season? The Cougars are 2-2 (1-2 Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division) after finishing last season 0-21 before surprising Indian Lake in the first round of the tournament.
“We improved a lot in the offseason working hard and knowing that we have to bounce back after an 0-21 season,” senior guard Jameel Cosby said. “We’re just more family than we were last year.”
The Cougars opened with a 76-67 victory over Catholic Central and a 60-56 win at Graham.
“It was an amazing feeling,” Cosby said. “When you play as a team, it’s great to win as a team.”
The Cougars trailed Graham by 1o with five minutes to play.
“I don’t know if that would’ve happened last year,” Cougars coach Kris Spriggs said. “This year we showed some perseverance and made some plays.”
The Cougars showed that same determination against Urbana (3-4, 1-2). They trailed by as much as 20 in the first half and 44-29 at the half. The defense was better in the second half.
“We competed,” Spriggs said. “They didn’t really pay attention to the scoreboard.”
The Cougars have a balanced scoring attack this year with senior guards Cosby (21.5 points per game), Nasiim McKay (19.0) and 6-foot-5 sophomore Tyler Eberhardt (12.5).
“They’ve got three really good players and some other guys who know their roles, so they’re going to be trouble for people for sure,” Urbana coach Jeremy Dixon said.
Cosby, who scored 27 against Urbana, said the biggest difference this year is playing together as a team. Spriggs, who also credits a lot of the improvement to his team’s offseason work habits, agrees that his players are relying more on each other. Last year, he said, when the Cougars were behind someone would try too hard to carry the team.
“The intention was right, but the execution was wrong,” Spriggs said. “A quick shot became points at the other end. Instead of helping, it hindered. This year we’re trying to buy into that team play and making the extra pass.”
Urbana has weathered a tough early-season schedule with its best all-around efforts in its past two games.
“Offensively we’ve got more guys contributing now,” Dixon said. “When we play confidently offensively we’re a good team.”
The Hillclimbers are led by senior guard Jace Underwood (16.7) and 6-5 senior Levi Boettcher (14.6). They combined for 45 against Kenton Ridge. The key was getting players like Reid Taylor and Dakota Hower in double figures with 17 and 14 points, respectively.
Tecumseh girls: The high-scoring Arrows (6-2, 4-0) are rolling toward what they hope is a third straight CBC Kenton Trail title led by the 1-2 punch of juniors Corinne Thomas (27.3) and Presley Griffits (24.6). They are the top two scorers and top two in assists in the CBC.
Thomas is a prolific 3-point shooter, making 5.7 per game and shooting 47.4 percent, both league highs. Griffits gets it done closer to the basket, shooting 63 percent overall.
Cedarville girls: The Indians (6-1, 5-0 Ohio Heritage Conference) have won early-season home games against their top competition in pursuit of a second straight conference title. Following a 14-point win over Greenon two weeks ago, the Indians beat Greeneview (5-1, 4-1) 51-44 Thursday night.
The best news for the Indians is that leading scorer Ise Bolender (18.0) is again playing her normal amount of minutes after recovering from offseason knee surgery. She had 16 against the Rams. Point guard Maggie Coe (15.0) had 21 against the Rams.
Springfield girls: The Wildcats have already had their best season since 2012 by equaling the five victories they had then. The Wildcats won their first three games and are 5-3, 1-3 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference National East Division.
Mickayla Perdue, a 5-foot-8 freshman guard, is leading the Wildcats with a 23.5 scoring average. Her other numbers are just as impressive: 52 percent shooting percentage, 51.4 3-point percentage and 6.1 steals and 4.8 assists per game.