KENTON — The Van Wert Cougars made the long trip to Kenton to take on the Wildcats in Western Buckeye League action on Friday night. Van Wert erased an 8-point deficit late in the third quarter to force overtime. Eventually, the Cougars prevailed by a score of 55-53.
Trailing 41-33 with time winding down in the third, a Blake Henry alley-oop pass was perfect for Jacoby Kelly to score a 2-point bucket before the buzzer went off, pulling the Cougars to within 41-35.
Kenton’s Jaron Sharp scored the first bucket of the fourth before Van Wert went on a 9-0 run, getting a 3-point play from Kelly. That run put Van Wert in the lead at 44-43. Kenton and Van Wert battled to ties at 47 and 49. Nate Place scored the final seven points for Van Wert in the fourth quarter as the Cougars put their faith in the veteran leaders late in the contest.
“Nate is the ultimate competitor, he is a down-hill player; his outside shot wasn’t falling tonight so he really worked with his driving ability,” Van Wert head coach Mark Bagley said. “We have four returning starters, and I put the game in their hands. I told them that I wasn’t going to call a lot of plays; they needed to play hard and we were able to come back in the contest.”
The Cougars got the last shot of the fourth period and Kelly drive to the basket leading to a layup but the ball rolled just off the rim.
In overtime, a Kelly layup put Van Wert up 51-50 before Henry drained two foul shots and Place knocked down one to increase the Cougars advantage to 54-52.
Kenton went to the foul line down two with less than five seconds on the clock. Cornell made the front-end of the two foul shots but missed the back-end and Van Wert’s Jonathan Lee pulled down the important rebound.
“Kenton played a very good game tonight; they are a young team with a veteran leader in Sharp, and they really controlled the tempo most of the game tonight,” Bagley said. “It was one of those games we made enough plays to win the game.”
Kenton clawed out to an early 7-2 lead thanks to five points from Jayden Cornell including a game opening 3-pointer. Van Wert took the lead with a jumper from Place to put the Cougars up 8-7.
The Wildcats got a triple from Sharp to end the first quarter and start the second period, making it 13-8, Kenton. After the Sharp trey in the second quarter, Van Wert went on a 10-0 run getting two points from five different players.
Kenton cut the Cougar lead to 18-17 with layups from Landon Rush and Sharp, but Van Wert got a jumper from Place to end the half with the Cougars up 20-17.
The Wildcats got a 3-point play from Sharp to open the third quarter to tie the game at 20-20. The Wildcats had a big third quarter as Kenton scored 24 points. Cornell drained two 3-pointers and Sharp chipped in with seven points in the period, creating that 41-33 Wildcat lead.
Van Wert gets no rest as the Cougars will face off against Coldwater at Van Wert High School on Saturday night. The Cougars improved to 7-7 on the year and 2-3 in the WBL. Kenton drops to 8-5 on the season and 1-3 in the WBL