Published in The News-Herald
February 6, 2016
With seconds left on the clock, a 69-66 lead and two free throws to ice the game remaining, Kenston senior guard C.J. Maynard looked to his bench and asked, “How many timeouts do we have left?”
The Bombers never needed the timeouts, as Maynard knocked down both tries for a 71-66 win on the road against Madison, but the type of leadership and veteran savvy the Ashland soccer recruit showed for all 32 minutes Feb. 5 are the reason Kenston finds itself in the mix for a Western Reserve Conference championship.
Maynard finished the game with a game high in points (23) and assists (eight).
“It’s a lot to ask, but it is kind of what we expect from him at this point,” Kenston coach Matt Vespa said. “I told him before the game, be the best player on the floor, because you are. I thought tonight, he definitely was. Guys step up and make plays everywhere, but we’re really going to go as far as he can take us, especially in a game like tonight.”
Alongside fellow sharp-shooting guard Josh Kain (18 points), Maynard and the Bombers (11-7, 7-3 WRC) were peppered all game by the Blue Streaks’ full-court press, using their sharp guard skills to get into their half-court offense. Once past the time line, Maynard and Kain unleashed a barrage of 3-point buckets to run up a 40-22 lead on Madison (12-7, 7-3) by halftime.
But the game was a tale of two halves for the Blue Streaks, who used runs of 12-3 and 12-4 to eventually whittle the Bombers’ lead to 67-66 in the final minute.
Madison was only again to be undone by Maynard, who broke down his defender on a dribble-drive, hitting a bucket to give Kenston a 69-66 lead. The Blue Streaks’ Vince Primer missed a triple-try to tie, with Maynard grabbing the final rebound and finishing things at the charity stripe.
Pat Moran said his Blue Streaks dug themselves an insurmountable hole by coming out of the gate with a lackluster effort, something they cannot do against a tough team in a tough conference.
“Our first possession, we had five shots at the basket,” he said. “I’m not sure if that gets in our head. Credit to them, they hit some big 3s, they really stretched us out. We knew they could shoot, but they were four or five feet behind. … We need to contest it better.”
Moran said his coaching staff addressed effort and effort only at halftime, even though there was a stark contrast between the two halves.
“We didn’t change anything, didn’t draw anything up. It was just a lack of effort, walking through a fog in that first half,” he added. “They’re disciplined enough in the half-court and they have a size advantage, so some of those things work against us, but you can’t spot a team 18 points and expect to overcome it. We fought as hard as we could, but we should never have put ourselves into that situation.”
A bright spot for the Blue Streaks was Zach Guyer, who Moran said his staff challenged at halftime. Guyer scored 17, scoring seemingly at will off the dribble, also adding key steals to the mix.
Drew Sova cashed in 21 for the Bombers.
Both coaches stressed their teams control their own destinies within the crowded top of the WRC standings, but Kain emphasized the Bombers’ unwillingness to watch the out of town scoreboard.
“We’re not looking at any other scores besides ourselves right now,” he said. “Anything that happens outside our game, we’re not focused on it, we’re focused on ourselves.”
Visit The News-Herald to view their video interview with CJ and Josh.