Kenston 5-foot-9 junior point guard CJ Maynard was dialed in during the Bombers’ pregame warmups Tuesday night at West Geauga, draining three, after three, after three from the corner – eight in a row, to be exact.
The Chagrin Valley Conference contest couldn’t tip off soon enough, as the dude was feeling it.
“Usually in warmups, that’s when I make most of my shots,” he said. “Like everyone else, I’m just trying to get a feel for the ball. But then in the game time, it’s a little more iffy.”
Kenston head coach Josh Jakacki said Maynard is often too unselfish out on the floor, tipping the scale toward assists rather than his ability to put points on the board.
Maynard said his coach challenged him in that regard before the game.
“Coach (Josh) Jakacki and my dad, they’ve both been on me about taking more shots, and so I took a note mentally of what they were saying,” Maynard said. “I heard both of them saying, ‘Shoot,’ when I had the ball, and I sort of just decided to pull the trigger on this one. I guess it paid off somewhat.”
Pressure guarded by West Geauga senior David Wolfhope in the early goings, Maynard didn’t find his look out of the gates, and it was a mystery of whether or not his pregame touch cooled off.
Leading, 10-9, with 1:38 left in the first quarter, Kenston junior Parker Gdula picked up his second foul while executing the Bombers’ full-court press, which they ran all night. He took a seat on the bench with fellow starters Jimmy Artale and Jay Weemhoff, both seniors who also had two early fouls.
Using depth to their advantage, the Bombers tapped their bench with 6-foot-1 senior Tyler Rendlesham, 6-foot-5 junior Drew Sova and 5-foot-9 sophomore Josh Kain, each of whom assisted Maynard for three buckets from downtown to end the first quarter on a 9-2 run.
“At first, I didn’t even know that three of our starters were out,” Maynard said. “I just kind of took my shots when they were given to me, and I just tried to help my team as much as possible, and I guess that’s the area where I was able to help them tonight in the first half.”
Despite the foul trouble, Kenston continued its full-court pressure with Maynard and senior shooting guard Jeremy Wyers harassing West Geauga’s baseline inbounds and forcing the Wolverines into 13 turnovers in the first half.
And while Maynard led Kenston with 16 points by intermission, someone should have given Sova a cape, because he was superhero off the bench with eight points, four boards and three steals in the first half for a 37-17 Bomber lead. Sova went on to finish with 14 points by the end of the night.
“The thing that was most impressive is, we got into some foul trouble and we put in some of our reserves, and they really responded,” coach Jakacki said. “It’s something I don’t want to say we’ve been lacking, but it’s something we’ve been looking for from our bench, to give us a little bit more of a spark.”
Only getting five minutes in the first half, Weemhoff was on a mission statement in the third, scoring 10 points, including two threes, and dishing out a pair of assists.
The 6-foot senior said he felt anxious sitting among his foul-troubled buddies on the bench.
“I wanted to get out there and play,” Weemhoff said. “So in the third quarter, I wanted to come out strong for my team, and of course I wanted to score some points. They were face guarding me at the beginning of the game, and then CJ (Maynard) started hitting his shots. So they started face guarding him, which kind of led to me getting open in that quarter.”
Weemhoff and the rest of the starters got benched again with about two minutes to go in the third – not because of foul trouble but because they outscored the Wolverines, 23-2, in the quarter for a 60-19 advantage.
“I think they were hungry,” coach Jakacki said. “I mean, the starters didn’t play much in the first half. So they came out hungry and played aggressive, and we were able to get some easy buckets at the rim, and, of course, Jay (Weemhoff) came out and hit 10 quick buckets, like he’s capable of doing. We were able to put the game away at that point.”
The Bombers went on to triumph, 74-31, and improved to 7-2. The Wolverines’ record dwindled to 4-6.
Complementing his 18 points, Maynard also led the team with five assists, while Sova and Kain led with six boards each, Artale with four blocks and Wyers and Sova with four steals apiece.
Up next, West Geauga travels to Aurora at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, while Kenston will host the Greenmen at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16.
Visit The Chagrin Valley Times to view their photos.