Despite comeback, Kennett falls to Henderson, 77-5901/11/2022 03:50PM ● By Richard Gaw
Photos by Richard L. Gaw Kennett High School basketball coach Jacob Grey speaks with his team during the third quarter of the Blue Demon’s 77-59 loss to visiting Henderson on Jan. 8.
By Richard L. Gaw
While the most declarative statement in any basketball game is its final score, each contest – whether it be the NBA Finals or an early-season high school tilt played on a wintry Saturday afternoon – is flavored with the normal ebbs and flows that determine its narrative, and that’s where the fun is.
In Henderson’s 77-59 victory over Kennett on Jan. 8, the story of the Warriors’ non-conference win was serialized into two very different segments, one that saw the Blue Demons struggle through a lopsided first half, and a second half comeback that seemed to have the acceleration of a cannon shot that simply ran out of steam before it reached its target.
In the first quarter, Henderson employed a swarming defense that never allowed Kennett to gain any offensive traction and led to eight minutes of bad passes, turnovers and poor shooting. On the other end of the court, Henderson conducted a perimeter offense that used the sharp shooting of Nyle Ralph-Bayer, Stephan Sirchio and Eddie Smink to jump out to a 25-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
With Kennett down 31-10 with two minutes left in the second quarter, a time out called by Blue Demons coach Jacob Grey seemed to ignite his team on the defensive end, leading to take-aways on three consecutive Henderson possessions. Despite holding their opponents scoreless for several minutes, Kennett could only capitalize once during the stretch, when a steal by Kalen Frazier led to a layup by Luke Good with 2:35 left in the half.
“Credit Henderson for what they did in the first half,” Grey said of the Warriors’ 39-17 halftime lead. “They were very physical and took us completely out of our rhythm.”
If what transpired for Kennett in the game’s first half could be called disheartening, their second half could easily be defined by the team’s stellar defense that held Henderson to 14 points in the third quarter, led by Frazier, Kharee Brunson, Augustine, Good and Bo Freeberry. Incorporating a full-court press and an aggressive man-to-man defense, the Blue Demons shut down Ralph-Bayer in the third quarter, while on offense, Kennett guard Zach Lower began to find his shooting eye, highlighted by a three-point jumper with 2:30 left in the third quarter that cut into Henderson’s lead.
Down 53-29 at the start of the fourth quarter, Kennett continued its frantic run, outscoring Henderson 30-21 largely on Lower’s shooting that included two three-pointers and a flurry of free throws. Lower’s performance was matched by Henderson’s 6’ 5” sophomore Nelson Lamizana, who scored 14 of his team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter.
Kennett was led by Lower’s 22 points, while Good poured in 15 points.
Despite the loss, Grey commended his team on their comeback in the second half.
“We don’t stop and we don’t quit,” he said. “Even when we were down big, the fight was always there. At this early stage of the season, it’s about all getting on the same page, because as long as we concentrate on the fundamentals, we can become a good team. We’re going to continue to keep learning, and learn from both our positives and our negatives.”
With the loss, Kennett fell to 2-4 overall on the young season and remains 1-1 in the Ches-Mont American conference. The Blue Demons faced cross-town rival Unionville on Jan. 11, and will travel to Bayard Rustin on Jan. 13. Henderson jumped its record to 8-4 overall, remains 2-1 in the Ches-Mont National. The Warriors traveled to Avon Grove on Jan. 11, and will return home on Jan. 13 for a conference game against Bishop Shanahan.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].