Published in The Geauga County Maple Leaf
February 25, 2016
“WHEN WE NEEDED BASKETS (BARNES) GOT BASKETS.” KEVIN HINKLE
The Bombers took out Madison three times, a good sign as they played their first season in the Western Reserve Conference.
The Kenston girls basketball team swept Madison during the regular season, but it wasn’t easy as both contests were struggles for at least three quarters. The Bombers’ Michaela Barnes made sure their third meeting went a little easier.
The Kenston senior scored a career-high 30 points as she led the Bombers to a, 60-48, victory over the Blue Streaks in a Division I sectional final.
The victory advanced the Bombers, the No. 2 seed, into a district semifinal against No. 6 seed Euclid, which upset No. 3 seed Mayfield.
Kenston’s season ended after a 46-39 loss to the Panthers. The Bombers finished the year at 18-6 and champions of the new WRC.
Unlike the first two meetings with Madison, which were close until the Bombers took control in the fourth quarter, Kenston led from the start. Barnes was key as she scored 12 points in the first quarter, leading the Bombers to a 18-10 advantage after 8 minutes of play.
Barnes was nearly flawless as she dominated both the first and third quarters. She was 7-for-7 from the foul line and added three rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Kenston coach Kevin Hinkle has seen many impressive performances by the Edinboro recruit, but her game against Madison may have been her best.
“She stepped up and dictated play,” Hinkle said. “When we needed baskets she got baskets.”
Hinkle said there was one big difference between the sectional final and the two regular season meetings between the two teams.
“We got an earlier lead,” Hinkle said. “That helped us when they made their run.”
The score was 30-20 at halftime with the Bombers on top before the Blue Streaks made their run. With 3 minutes left in the third quarter, Madison cut the lead down to 35-29, which was Kenston’s smallest lead since early in the second quarter.
But Barnes took over as she converted three-point plays on consecutive possessions to quickly push the lead back out to 41-29. After fellow Bomber Grace Adams scored on back-to-back possessions the lead reached 45-31 at the end of the third quarter. The Blue Streaks never got the deficit less then double digits the rest of the game.
“We knew we had to pick it up offensively and defensively,” Barnes said. “A lot of players stepped up off the bench.”
Hinkle said that run spurred by Barnes and Adams was key.
“She did a great job sensing the urgency,” Hinkle said. “They made a run and we had to answer. She’s a senior. You don’t get too high and you don’t get too low.”
For Barnes and the other Kenston seniors, it was nice to have one last home game.
“It was great,” Barnes said. “It’s comfortable for us (playing at home) and it really showed in the way we played tonight.
“We talked about it at the beginning and we came out ready to play.”
It was a particularly impressive victory when taking into consideration the Bombers played without starter Julie Hajdu and key reserve Cailee Rendlesham. Both were out with the flu. Hinkle, who normally goes deep into his bench, went even deeper against the Blue Streaks.
“We like to go deep into our bench using at least eight or nine,” Hinkle said.
Adams also had a nice game for Kenston as she scored 12 points. Fellow Bomber Sarah Spehn was tough down low, especially defensively and on the boards. She finished with seven points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots.
Shyenne Ledford was tops for Madison with 18 points and eight rebounds. However, 11 of her points came in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach. The Blue Streaks’ Alyssa Rose added 11 points.
Visit Geauga County Maple Leaf to view their photos.