The Kenston boys basketball team isn’t going to scare any opponents during the pregame show – the Bombers are not the most athletic team, and they’re not the most imposing team either.
During Saturday’s non-league road victory at Solon, 59-35, the Bombers proved once again that appearances can be deceiving.
“It’s chameleon,” Kenston head coach Josh Jakacki said about his team’s reptilian, camouflage press that had the Comets popping throat lozenges all night with their 20 cough-ups.
“Sometimes teams have a hard time recognizing whether its man or zone, and I won’t tell you what it is, but it’s something that we’ve kind of created,” Jakacki said about the ninja press. “It’s been in our mind to have this, because, oftentimes, when teams know we’re straight under, they’ll just clear it out. But now we feel like we have something in our back pocket.”
Holding a six-point lead out of intermission, the Bombers claimed the dojo with an 18-3 third-quarter rout – gaining a 43-22 advantage before heading down the final stretch. The Comets had eight of their 20 turnovers during that eight-minute struggle.
Focused on winning the third quarter, the Bombers knew they had to dial in on defense coming out of the break, 5-foot-9 junior guard CJ Maynard said.
“I don’t think it’s a matter of whether they know it’s coming or not,” Maynard said about the press. “I think that we bring the intensity, and, as fast as we come at them on defense, I mean, teams expect it, but they can’t replicate what we do in their practices. We really push the tempo. So a lot of times they know it’s coming, but they’re still not ready for it exactly.”
Maynard tallied five of his 10 points in the third quarter to go with his four rebounds, six assists and four steals.
A pair of Maynard’s platter servers were devoured by 5-foot-9 sophomore Josh Kain in the third quarter, when he buried two of his four three-point buckets. Off the bench, Kain finished four-of-six from beyond the arc for 12 points.
“The dribble-drive offense,” Kain said about the hole growing larger and larger for him. He also hit four from downtown during the Bombers’ previous game, when they beat Orange, 68-32.
“Our defensive tempo is going to gain me threes too, because, when we play defense like we do, it leads to other things like driving opportunities and transition offense,” Kain said. “And I just play along and have guys like CJ (Maynard) to find me open, and everyone else on the team. We’re all playing great right now.”
Pacing the Bombers early on, 6-foot senior Jay Weemhoff dropped nine of his game-high 13 points in the first half.
Weemhoff collected a transition layup and a three-pointer off back-to-back assists from 6-foot senior Jeremy Wyers in the first quarter, and then Weemhoff had another transition bucket, as well as a basket off an outlet steal in the second quarter.
While Wyers finished the night with four points, seven boards, four assists and a steal, Weemhoff complemented his scoring effort with four boards, four assists and three steals.
“Well, we were doing a dribble-drive offense, and I could really come downhill on them,” Weemhoff said. “I was just trying to be aggressive, because I didn’t play against Orange. So I kind of just wanted to get out there and get some shots up. So I was trying to be aggressive, and shots fell for me.”
After falling behind, 9-4, midway through the first quarter, Solon went on an 8-0 run to take a 12-9 advantage in the first minute of the second quarter – with buckets by Zack Lesko, Reid Thompson, Evan Poindexter and Jason Steele – but that was the Comets’ only lead all night.
The Bombers’ answered with a 13-2 run with the help-side defense of Kenston 6-foot-3 senior Jimmy Artale, who closed down the paint. Artale finished with five points, five boards, three assists, three steals and two blocks.
“I think we let some scoring opportunities go by in the first half,” coach Jakacki said about a 25-19 lead at intermission. “And, to be truthful, they got two fast-break layups on us and scored on a few second-chance opportunities. So, if we can take away three of those buckets, we have a cushion at halftime. But I’m happy with the outcome. The kids played hard, and you can’t ask for anything more than that.”
While Solon is still 4-0 in Northeast Ohio Conference league play, the Comets fell to 5-6 during a 52-51 loss to Willoughby South on Tuesday, as they’re struggling without starting freshman point guard Sincere Carry, who broke a bone in his hand Jan. 6 and will likely be out the remainder of the regular season.
Kenston, meanwhile, went on to lose to Chagrin Valley Conference foe Perry, 50-47, on Tuesday to drop to 10-3, including a 5-1 league mark. The Pirates improved to 9-1, with a 6-0 CVC mark.
Up next, the Bombers host defending CVC champion Chagrin Falls (8-3, 3-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“We’ll savor this tonight,” coach Jakacki said about Saturday’s victory at Solon, “and then tomorrow our focus will be on what we like to consider championship week with Perry and Chagrin.”
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