Bombers bring the energy in third quarter in win over Rangers
The Kenston Bombers boys basketball team was flying high after opening their Western Reserve Conference play with a thrilling overtime road victory on Jan. 15 against the Willoughby South Rebels. That feeling went away when the team had to shut down all activities after receiving word of a positive COVID test in the program.
Just when Kenston was finding momentum and getting ready to do damage in the WRC it had to sit on the sidelines for two weeks. All practices were cancelled and all the players could do was wait. It was already challenging enough for the team to have to wait for its season opener to occur a month later than previously scheduled.
“It was pretty frustrating but we all knew that when we came back we were going to be the same team that we were,” said Kenston senior forward Kyle Quinlan, “If anything it gave us more time to think about our team and the way we were going to come out and play. Guys were even more focused when we came back than they were before.”
The Bombers got back on the court on Jan. 29 for their first practice and held two more practices before stepping back on the court for game action. Despite the rust Kenston knocked off WRC rival Mayfield on Feb. 2. Although the Bombers won they still needed to get their legs underneath them.
Under normal circumstances Kenston would’ve been favored in its WRC match-up against Eastlake North but there was a lot working against the Bombers. The team still wasn’t fully back in game shape and the Rangers were entering the contest having just snapped their 31-game losing streak dating back to the 2018-19 season and had won two straight. Kenston shook off the fatigue in the third quarter to stamp out Eastlake North’s momentum in a 70-58 victory on Feb. 5 in Eastlake.
The Bombers got off to a rough start. Kenston was suffering from tired legs and lost junior forward Anthony Yohman to foul trouble early on as he struggled to guard Rangers’ junior big man Ryan Baer. It led to a back-and-forth battle with the team holding jus a four-point lead at the end of the first.
The Bombers’ defense was active in the second quarter and forced six turnovers. It was the perfect chance for the team to make a run and put the game away but it had trouble converting off turnovers. Despite taking a 26-17 lead midway through the second Kenston let its conference rivals hang around and Eastlake North put together a 7-0 run to make it a two-point game at the break.
“We definitely came out with no energy. We weren’t running our offense well. The transition defense was not there,” said junior guard Nick Cowoski.
Kenston head coach Derrick DeJarnette could see that his team was lacking a spark. He challenged them during halftime and told them to stop feeling sorry for themselves and play their game. The Bombers rose to the occasion and came out with a renewed purpose in the third quarter.
Quinlan took coach DeJarnette’s message to heart as he was flying up-and-down the court. He forced turnovers on the defensive end, was active on the glass as he grabbed a handful of offensive rebounds and set up multiple scoring opportunities for his teammates with crisp passing. The junior forward keyed a 16-0 run to open the quarter and scored ten points to blow the game open and launch Kenston out to a 56-40 lead.
“That’s the thing about Kyle,” said coach DeJarnette, “He’s long and fast and plays the game with energy.”
It was a good win but the Bombers didn’t have much time to enjoy the victory. The remainder of their schedule sees them play three more WRC conference games and then finish off the season with contests against Perry and Chagrin Falls. Kenston’s conference championship hopes took a hit when they suffered a defeat against conference rivals the Chardon Hilltoppers on Feb. 8 at Bainbridge Township. The team had hold a near-perfect record to knock off reigning WRC conference champs the Brush Arcs.
Cowoski was the Bombers’ leading scorer with 18 points, one rebound and five assists and Quinlan and senior guard Ethan Thorne tied for second by each chipping in 13 points. Freshman Michael Register, Jr. led the Rangers with 18 points, 11 rebounds and four assists followed by junior guard Kyle Randle and Baer who each scored 11 points. The Bombers will welcome the Rebels to town this Friday night.