KENTON — After giving up 100 points against Ottawa-Glandorf Friday night and being thoroughly beat, Kenton needed a big win to erase the memory of that loss.
The Wildcats did just that after beating Allen East 81-50 in a non league affair Saturday night.
From the opening buzzer, Kenton took control of the game by applying the full court press that allowed the Wildcats to force five turnovers in the three minutes of the game that allowed Kenton to break out to a 9-0 lead.
After the initial scoring surge, Allen East did a better job of handling the press and slowly began to score points but they could not keep up with Kenton and the shooting of Landon Rush and Jaron Sharp who would combine for 31 points in the first half.
“The game plan going in was to pick them up full court and try to create some offense with our defense and get the confidence back from last night’s performance,” Kenton head coach Matt McCullough said, “I was really proud of how the guys responded. They have done it all year. We’ve been down and guys have fought until the end and come short and the next night the come out ready to go.”
McCullough added that win secures the Wildcats of a winning season and marks the second straight year they have posted records above .500
The Wildcats improve to 12-7. Allen East tumbles to 4-15.
Allen East head coach Brad Clum said the young Mustangs, that have one senior on the squad, have had trouble with the press all year long so they were not surprised by it.
“We have struggled with that and everybody has watched film and knows it,” Clum said. “We are young. We are small and physically we are not ready for varsity basketball. We have young kids playing varsity basketball and they are forced into that because of our numbers.
By the end of the first period, Kenton led 18-10.
Things went from bad to worse in the second half as Kenton continued to apply defensive pressure that Allen East had trouble handing and by halftime the Wildcats owned a 44-23 lead. In the first two periods, the Mustangs had 13 turnovers.
Any chance of a miracle comeback was quickly dispelled when Kenton scored the first six points of the third quarter.
Rush finished with a game high 23 points and Sharp pumped in 21 points. Cornell chipped in 11 as 11 different Wildcats scored points in the win.
For Allen East, Devin Reed had 19 points and nine rebounds.
Despite the loss, Clum was proud of his team’s effort and added that this is one of the better games they have played in a while.
“Our confidence has been shot the last couple of games and they did a great job and I am proud of their effort,” Clum said. “Sometimes you have to look at and say ‘hey they are the better team.’”.