Sun Valley comeback downs Kennett, 60-51
● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer
If there was a way to eliminate a swatch of play from Kennett High School’s 60-51 loss to visiting Sun Valley last Thursday evening, Blue Demon head coach Brian Urig would have taken the knife to the game and carved out the third quarter that led to his team’s loss.
In basketball, however, there are no mulligans to hide blemishes, and the game provides no rewind or erase buttons, so there it was, on the scoreboard -- an accumulation of six points in the third quarter -- coming on the heels of a Blue Demon defense that held Sun Valley to the same number of points in the second quarter, and the owners of a comfortable 31-24 lead at halftime.
After a tenuous start by both teams, one that featured poor tempo and sloppy passing, Sun Valley jumped out to an early 11-3 lead with 3:40 remaining in the first quarter, assisted by the first of five three-pointers the sharp-shooting Ryan collected on the night. In the second quarter, Sun Valley’s 18-10 lead was swallowed up, largely on the free-throw shooting of senior guard Christian Beveridge, who sank eight of ten shots from the line. Throughout the quarter, Beveridge’s swarming and aggressive defense led to a bang-bang procession where he made two free throws after a steal, and then, after a second stolen pass, found forward Tyler Nunn for an easy layup to give Kennett its first lead of the game, 25-23.
While Kennett’s fire dwindled in the third, an 18-point effort in the third quarter by Sun Valley slowly erased Kennett’s lead, led by a trio of three-pointers by the Vanguard’s Kyle Ryan, clutch free-throw shooting, and the inability of the Kennett offense to penetrate Sun Valley’s zone defense. With no perimeter shooting threat to go to, Beveridge and Connor McGlone tried continually to find centers Sean Rodgers, Parker Leto and Nunn at the top of the key and on the baseline, only to lead to turnovers.
"In the first half, we found the open guy, we got key rebounds, and made some key plays, but not so much of that in the second half," Urig said. "When you go against a zone, you need to knock down a good jump shot, and we weren’t getting particularly good looks. I thought we had some decent looks in the paint against the zone, but we just didn’t finish."
Although the Blue Demons finished the game with a respectable 14 points fourth quarter, Ryan’s hot hand was unstoppable, as he wrapped up his 25-point effort with two more three-pointers. Kennett got as close as a few buckets of the lead, when with the game down to its last minute, a three-pointer by Nunn closed Sun Valley’s lead to 56-51. In a desperate chase for possession, Kennett fouled forward Ryan Hall and guard Ishy Ahmad, who promptly sank two free throws that put the game out of reach.
For Kennett, Beveridge’s 15-19 free-throw shooting contributed to his team-high 19 points, while Nunn finished with 14 points and McGlone scored nine points in the game. The Blue Demons fell to 0-3 on the early campaign and looked to get in the win column against Octorara on Dec. 15, and will travel to cross-town rival Unionville on Dec. 17.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.