Kenton Ridge falls in matchup of conference leaders

SPRINGFIELD — Trailing late in their key conference matchup with Jonathan Alder, the Kenton Ridge High School boys basketball team couldn’t find an answer for the Pioneers pressure defense.

The Cougars scored six points in the fourth quarter, falling to Jonathan Alder 51-42 in a matchup of Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division leaders on Friday night at Kenton Ridge High School.

“We’ve had some stretches this year where we do that,” said Kenton Ridge coach Brian Smith. “The last time we played them it was the second quarter. This time it ends up being the fourth quarter. They play really good defense, they really do. They’re a physical team. They’ve got some players that I think know how to win. I just don’t think we’re there yet.”

Kenton Ridge juniors Ckai Rogan and Canye Rogan each scored 11 points and junior Logan Fyffe added nine points as the Cougars fell to 6-7 and 3-3 in the Kenton Trail Division.

Pioneers junior Peyton Heiss had a game-high 12 points and sophomore Noah Hess added 11 as Jonathan Alder improved to 8-7 and 4-2 in the Kenton Trail Division. Three-time defending league champion Jonathan Alder remained in a first-place tie with Shawnee (10-5, 4-2), which beat Bellefontaine on Friday night.

Kenton Ridge led 13-10 after the first quarter, but the Pioneers fought back to take a 23-21 halftime lead.

The Cougars trailed by six midway through the third quarter, but went on an 11-4 run to grab a 36-35 lead on a steal and layup by Fyffe with 10 seconds remaining in the period.

The Pioneers scored on its first two possessions of the fourth quarter to grab a 38-36 lead. The Cougars’ Cayne Rogan responded with a 3-pointer to give Kenton Ridge a 39-38 with five minutes remaining.

Jonathan Alder countered with a 5-0 run to grab a 44-39 lead on two made free throws by Pioneers senior Will Jackson with 2:25 remaining.

Kenton Ridge pulled to within three points on a layup by Fyffe, but they wouldn’t get any closer. Jonathan Alder’s Hess hit a three-pointer to make it 47-41 in the final two minutes to give the Pioneers the lead for good.

“It was really a dagger,” Smith said. “It went from three to six right there and it made a big difference.”

The Pioneers went 5-for-10 from the free throw line to seal the game.

“Once you get down two, three, four points, it becomes a foul game and you’re just hoping they miss free throws and we gave up some offensive rebounds at the end,” Smith said.

Kenton Ridge is still learning how to win. The Cougars returned just two players with varsity experience. They’ve lost four games by six points or less this season.

“I like what we’re doing,” Smith said. “I think we’re doing the right things. It’s just a shot here or there and a possession here or there and if we can hold the lead into the last two to three minutes, it’s a different game completely. The turnovers just really hurt us at the end.”

The Cougars are onegame back of Shawnee and Jonathan Alder with four division games remaining. They’ll travel to Shawnee next Friday night in another key division game. The Cougars beat the Braves 53-47 on Dec. 9.

“I still think we’re in a good position for the league,” Smith said. “We’ve got a big one with Shawnee and the rest of the league to go. I think Jonathan Alder is going to have to battle it out with everybody just like the first round.”

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