Although the Kenston Bombers girls basketball team was playing in the middle of a pandemic they didn’t have much to complain about. The team was playing some great basketball and put itself in prime position to capture the Western Reserve Conference title. In order to do that it needed to take down the Brush Arcs.
The Bombers put up a good fight but came up a little short in its conference showdown on Feb. 3 against Brush. It was a tough loss as Kenston held the lead entering the final quarter but went cold from the floor at the worst time. The team didn’t have much time to lick its wounds as it had another game to get ready for. The Bombers’ defense woke up in the second half to take care of WRC conference rivals the Willoughby South Rebels by a score of 63-55 on Feb. 6 in Bainbridge Township.
Kenston did not look like the defensive juggernaut it had proven itself to be all season in the first half at all. The Rebels scored at will and caught fire from beyond the arc. Willoughby South junior Grace Woodcock and sophomore Kailey Minch combined for three triples in the opening quarter. Luckily the Bombers’ star junior guard Catara DeJarnette was feeling it as she drained three triples to put up 12 points and keep it a tied affair at the end of the first.
The Bombers continued to struggle on defense in the second quarter as Woodcock continued to be red-hot from long-distance by swishing two more three-pointers. DeJarnette continued to make buckets but it wasn’t enough as the Rebels held a 32-27 lead at the break.
“We played bad to start the game. We had a bad practice on Friday and we weren’t focused and we weren’t ready to go when the game started,” said Bombers’ head coach John Misenko, “Defensively I thought we got beat a little bit. We just didn’t play up to our capabilities in the first half and we were down five and then the second half was a totally different half.”
Coach Misenko knew that his team had to go back to playing their usual brand of basketball which was to play lockdown defense. He made the decision to call on sophomore guard Brooke Pagon from the bench to be the primary defender on Woodcock in the second half. The move paid dividends as Pagon held the Rebels’ junior scoreless in the third quarter.
DeJarnette also stepped up her defense on Minch by limiting her to just four points in the third. The Bombers started looking like their old selves by holding Willoughby South to just five points and regained the lead 42-37 entering the final quarter.
“We woke up. We decided to play. That’s the difference. I thought Brooke Pagon came off the bench and did a phenomenal job shutting down Grace Woodcock in the second half and then Catara did a really nice job on Minch. I thought our guards did a better job on their guards in the second half. We just played better in the second half,” said coach Misenko.
DeJarnette continued to have a day on offense to help the Bombers cement the victory in their final conference game of the season. Although the team didn’t win the WRC championship it had a very solid year by going 6-1 in conference play. Kenston put the finishing touches on a fine regular season by defeating Cleveland Heights on Feb. 8. It’s now time to gear up for the postseason. The biggest issue that could hold the team back is the lack of continuity in a season as unpredictable as this one.
“I don’t want to sound greedy. Us playing 15 games is great but at the end of the day we did lose seven games and I don’t know that we were ever really able to consistently play multiple games in a row to build that continuity and that’s the frustrating part,” said coach Misenko.
DeJarnette scored a career-high 35 points, had seven rebounds, four assists and three steals followed by senior wing Kate Haynes and sophomore forward Ramsey Smith who each scored seven points. Woodcock scored 19 points to lead the Rebels followed by Minch who had 12 points. The lady Bombers will now wait almost a week before hosting neighborhood rival Chagrin Falls on Feb. 17 in the first round of the Division II Northeast 1 bracket.