Kenton held Hardin Northern scoreless for the first quarter, scored the game’s first 16 points and cruised to a 56-21 non-conference girls basketball win Saturday night.
“It’s Christmas break,” Kenton coach Ryan Miller said. “It’s a win and we played scrappy. … Some of the things we practiced earlier in the week that we wanted to do tonight, we didn’t do. It was a little bit sloppy. It was a little ugly. It wasn’t the dominating win I thought we would have.”
Kenton (6-4) forced 13 turnovers in the first quarter and scored 10 of its 14 first-quarter points off transition. Brooke Bostelman made three layups in transition in the opening period on her way to a game-high 26 points.
In addition to the turnovers, Hardin Northern missed 11 first-quarter field goals and four free throws.
“We don’t score very well,” Hardin Northern coach Brady Mast said. “I thought we did some good things. At the end of the first quarter it was 14-0 and I’m thinking to myself, ‘Well, they’re not really running away with it. If we could manage to knock a couple of those free throws in and get a bucket here or there.’ It was typical for us. Our offensive struggles make everything else multiply.”
Kenton pushed its lead to 16 points early in the second quarter when Chyenne Hedges grabbed an offensive rebound and converted the layup. Hedges grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds as the Wildcats outrebounded Hardin Northern 75-38.
Hardin Northern scored its first point on its 29th possession of the game.
“We have athletic girls who can get after it,” Miller said. “That’s the one thing I would say we do well – we play good defense. For the better part of the game, we controlled the boards. When you force 23 turnovers and you’re grabbing a lot of the boards, we’re going to come out on the better end.”
The Polar Bears (1-12) got on the board when Kylee Hooker made a free throw with 6:35 to play in the second quarter. Hooker scored seven of her team-high 13 points in the second quarter.
“She did a nice job of being the floor leader,” Mast said. “This is what we talked about with her. Sometimes it’s not about her getting the shots, it’s about creating for her teammates or getting to the free-throw line. I think tonight she held the effort together.
“Her non-stop motor didn’t let anybody else let down. The score doesn’t show it, losing by 35, but I thought we gave effort for four quarters tonight and she was a big reason for that.”
Hardin Northern made its first field goal with 4:03 to go in the first half when Morgan Madison made a layup after a pass from Molly Wilson.
Kenton didn’t allow another field goal until there were 38 seconds left before halftime. The Wildcats forced 17 turnovers in the first half before backing off its defense in the second half.
“It was our pressure,” Miller said. “I’m not going to do that for an entire game. I want Brady to be successful and I don’t want to run the girls down. We pulled the pressure off. We do get going with our pressure. Defense is what we hang our hat on, forcing turnovers and getting easy transition baskets.”
Kenton continued to stretch its lead in the second half. Wilson made a layup in transition to put the Polar Bears behind 31-11 early in the third quarter, but Kenton went on a 9-0 run. Bostelman knocked down a jumper and scored off an offensive putback. Then Hedges scored in transition before Ashley Morris drilled a 3-pointer.
“We put ourselves in bad positions because either we get one shot and we’re in transition or we turn the ball over and they get a quick transition,” Mast said. “But when we’re able to sit and just play defense, we’ve played pretty well at times.”
Hardin Northern grabbed eight offensive rebounds in the game. Kenton had eight offensive rebounds in the second quarter.
The Polar Bears countered with a 6-0 run of their own to pull within 23 points at the end of the third quarter. But Kenton started the fourth quarter on a 13-2, led by five points from Megan Webb.
“We’re 2-1 right now (in the Western Buckeye League) and we have Van Wert this Thursday,” Miller said. “We’re starting to get an idea of what we do well as a team and what we don’t do so well. That makes practice a lot easier to plan for. We need to continue to do the things we do well like our pressure defense in the fullcourt. We need to get better at shooting our free throws and finding an offensive player other than Brooke.”
Hardin Northern hosts Liberty-Benton on Thursday. Mast said despite the Polar Bears’ struggle this season, his team has always given effort.
“You always worry about it,” Mast said. “I told them in the locker room it’s easy at this point when we’re 1-12 to be really frustrated and you worry they might hang their heads. Our girls never seem to do that. We have our moments of frustration, but they play hard. They play hard for four quarters.”
KENTON 56, HARDIN NORTHERN 21
HARDIN NORTHERN (1-12) — Brianna Campbell 0-1 0-0 0, Micheala Curtis 1-3 0-0 2, Shelby Schlatter 0-8 0-0 0, Molly Wilson 1-8 0-3 2, Brooklynn Watts 1-2 0-3 2, Morgan Madison 1-1 0-0 2, Alanna Roth 0-1 0-0 0, Holly Wilson 0-8 0-0 0, Breanna Cook 0-0 0-0 0, Kearston Schlatter 0-0 0-0 0, Kylie Hooker 4-17 5-7 13, Kamryn Dye 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 8-49 5-13 21.
KENTON (6-4) — Karley Wireman 0-5 0-2 0, Keana Wireman 2-8 0-0 4, Ashley Morris 1-5 1-2 4, Caitlin Johnson 0-4 0-2 0, Jenna Moore 1-8 0-1 2, Brooke Bostelman 9-23 7-12 26, Megan Webb 2-6 2-4 7, Chyenne Hedges 4-9 0-0 8, Megan Gier 1-2 1-2 3, Courtney Cook 0-0 0-0 0, Lauren Rush 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 21-71 11-25 56.
HN 0 9 8 4 — 21
K 14 15 11 16 — 54
3-point goals — Hardin Northern 0-9 (Curtis 0-1, S. Schlatter 0-1, Watts 0-1, Hooker 0-6); Kenton 3-12 (Webb 1-1, Morris 1-3, Bostelman 1-7, Ke. Wireman 0-1). Total fouls — Hardin Northern 17; Kenton 15. Fouled out — none. Rebounds — Hardin Northern 38 (M. Wilson 6, Campbell 5); Kenton 75 (Hedges 13, Bostelman 11, Johnson 8, Webb 7). Assists — Hardin Northern 3 (three tied at 1); Kenton 9 (Morris 3, Webb 2). Steals — Hardin Northern 11 (Hooker 7); Kenton 14 (Ke. Wireman 3, Bostelman 3). Blocks — Hardin Northern 1 (M. Wilson); Kenton 4 (four tied with 1). Turnovers — Hardin Northern 23; Kenton 18.
By KURT RITZMAN
Times sports editor