When the Kenton Ridge girls basketball team was 3-4, coach Ed Foulk wasn’t making district tournament plans. But the Cougars improved with several freshmen and sophomores playing key roles and the wins began piling up as usual
Then star senior and second-leading scorer Sydney Bates chose to have shoulder surgery at the end of the regular season. And in her final high school game, the Cougars lost to West Liberty-Salem. But the Cougars regrouped and made a seventh straight Division II district appearance.
All those obstacles finally stopped the Cougars on Friday night when unbeaten and third-ranked Bellbrook took control in the third quarter and won 61-48 to set up a regional semifinal Tuesday against top-ranked Kettering Alter.
“We did a great job without having Syd,” said Foulk, who won his 600th game this season. “They had determination and they hustled and played good defense, and I knew they would. We’re just not the best at handling the ball sometimes.”
Bellbrook (26-0) double-teamed KR’s younger and smaller guards for two reasons: force turnovers and make it difficult to get the ball inside to Jamari McDavid and Mikala Morris. The Cougars (19-7) have counted on their two post players all season to score and rebound. McDavid scored her average of 23 points, but Morris battled foul trouble and scored six. The Cougars made 10 of 24 free throws.
Bellbrook countered with 6-foot-2 Gabby Ozoude with 20 points. She got the 6-1 Morris in foul trouble and is a mix of McDavid’s athleticism and Morris’ strength. Ozoude scored six points when Bellbrook gained control with a 9-4 to close the first half up 34-25.
“The biggest thing was we got intimidated early by the big girl,” Foulk said. “That affected a lot early.”
The Cougars have much to look forward to next year. They didn’t play any seniors Friday.
“This was a sample of next year,” Foulk said. “Usually you don’t get that. If they want to work hard ….”