CLEVELAND HEIGHTS—Kenston opened the season with two impressive wins at the Great Lakes Classic over the weekend.
The Bombers tipped off the event with a 75-64 win over James Rhodes on Saturday and held off New Day Academy on Sunday, 63-52.
“It wasn’t pretty and what we wanted it to be, but we’re 2-0,” said Kenston head coach Matt Vespa after New Day rallied back from 19-1 and 49-29 deficits. “We have a couple days off now to kind of work on some things. Early in the season, you never know. The intensity of a game, you just can’t simulate it in practice. We try, but it’s not the same. New Day, this was a big game for them. They don’t get to play a lot of teams like that and they have some big guys. I thought we got punched in the mouth a few times but we responded and were able to hang on and get one.”
Ben Batista led the Bombers with 22 points and seven rebounds against Rhodes while Michael Swartz dropped a game-high 22 on New Day Academy.
“It can be any guy on any given night,” Vespa said. “That’s kind of our MO. (On Saturday), we had four guys in double figures. We share the ball.”
Ryan Kooser scored 15 on Saturday and came back with 16 on Sunday. Blaise Gorski and Kee-Shaun Merrill both scored 10 points in the win over Rhodes and D.J. DeJarnette finished with 10 against New Day Academy.
Batista finished with seven points and nine rebounds in the win over Rhodes and DeJarnette posted a team-high seven assists against New Day.
Kenston got off to a hot start against the Eagles on Sunday in building the 19-1 lead but was outscored, 17-15, in the second quarter.
“I thought in the first half we were a little bit selfish but we talked at halftime and when the ball moves we have guys who can put it in the hoop when we get open shots so there’s no reason for us to take anything other than a great, wide open shot,” Vespa said. “When we do that we can be successful.”
Swartz got hot in the second half.
“My approach is always just to share the ball,” Swartz said. “If I get an open shot I’m going to take it. We look to pass the ball, we’re a very unselfish team this year. Pass first, shoot second, but if I’m open I’m going to take it.”
The Bombers host Madison on Friday.
Kenston 63, New Day 52
Kenston: Kooser 16, Ransom 2, Swartz 22, Merrill 4, DeJarnette 10, Smith 2, Batista 7
New Day: Cotrell 9, Patterson 5, Smith 12, Cole 1, Watson 13, Baker 2, D. Thomas 10
Kenston 18 15 16 13 — 63
New Day 3 17 17 15 — 52
Free throws: Kenston 23 of 34, New Day 10 of 19; 3-pointers: Kenston 6 (Swartz 2, Dejarnette 2, Merrill, Kooser), New Day 4 (Smith 2, Cotrell, Patterson)
Kenston 75, Rhodes 64
Rhodes: Landisham 15, Dye 5, Dickerson 3, Aponte 2, Monday 2, Flanagan 14, Christley 2, Tucker 16, Scurry 2
Kenston (1-0): Kooser 15, Swartz 9, Merrill 10, DeJarnette 9, Gorski 10, Long 2, Batista 22
Rhodes 13 18 15 18 — 64
Kenston 18 15 17 25 — 75
Free throws: Kenston 16 of 27; 3-pointers: Kenston 3 (Kooser, Swartz, Dejarnette)