The Kenston Bombers and Chardon Hilltoppers girls basketball teams both were in need of gaining momentum entering the weekend. Both squads were in a slump as the Bombers were coming off a loss to Buchtel last Tuesday while the Hilltoppers had dropped two of their last three games.
There was a lot riding on the first Western Reserve conference game of the season. Kenston has been on a mission trying to prove to everyone that it is not handicapped by not having a large number of seniors on its roster. The team’s youth has given them a chip on the shoulder. The Bombers continued to grow up on Jan. 16 as they played stout defense to shut down conference rival Chardon in a 59-48 victory at Kenston High School on Jan. 16.
“We went into this game knowing it was going to be tough competition,” said Bombers sophomore guard Ramsey Smith, “We lost to them in the past so it was definitely a good win.”
The Bombers’ recent defeat against Buchtel last Tuesday saw them struggle to knock anything down from the floor. That was not going to be the case early on as junior guard Catara DeJarnette developed the hot stroke from beyond the arc and canned three triples to put Kenston up 14-12. Aside from their sharpshooting the Bombers’ defense looked sharp as they forced five Hilltoppers’ turnovers in the opening quarter.
“Today I thought we made more shots,” said Kenston head coach John Misenko, “Our defense stirred our offense. It was just a great team win.”
Kenston did not ease off its defensive pressure in the second quarter. The Bombers made it almost impossible for Chardon to get any kind of open looks. Even when the Hilltoppers did get an open shot they just could not put the ball in.
“They took them away which is what their prerogative was, and I thought we did a pretty good job getting into the lane, but we just didn’t make lay-ups,” said Hilltoppers’ head coach Cullen Harris, “When you don’t make lay-ups it’s hard to win basketball games.”
Kenston went on a 11-4 run to hold a nine-point lead. Chardon scored four unanswered points as halftime drew near but the Bombers pushed the lead back out to seven points after sophomore guard Sam Bergansky drained a buzzer-beating baseline jumper.
DeJarnette had gone quiet after the first quarter but got going early in the third. The Hilltoppers could not contain her as she drove into the heart of the paint with ease and remained active on the defensive end to create multiple transition opportunities. The Bombers’ junior guard’s offensive eruption gave her team a 16-point lead midway through the third quarter. It was a welcome game for DeJarnette as her shot had not been falling as of late.
“They were throwing turnovers and I was just hustling to get those and the fast breaks we were getting. I know they have good defenders, but I know what my ability is, and I can go blow by and just get to the lane,” said DeJarnette.
Chardon didn’t go down quietly. It made a few runs near the final minutes of the fourth quarter but could never cut the gap to single digits. It struggled to take advantage of free opportunities as the team made just four baskets out of 14 opportunities from the charity stripe. The team is fighting to get out of its slump after defeating Mentor on Monday evening
“It’s a weird season where we’re crunching games together like this and we told kids there’s a not a lot of time for feeling sorry for yourselves. We’ve got to get back on the horse. We’ve just got to keep working and getting better,” said coach Harris.
DeJarenette led the Bombers with 29 points, four assists, two rebounds and one blocked shot followed by Smith with nine points, two rebounds and two assists and sophomore guard Brooke Pagon tallied eight points, four rebounds and an assist. The Hilltoppers’ leading scorer was senior guard Jo Janda with 15 points, two rebounds and three assists and sophomore guard Emily Noerr followed behind with ten points, four rebounds and one assists. Kenston looks to stay undefeated in conference play on Jan. 23 with a game against Riverside on the road while Chardon travels to square off against conference rival Madison the same day.