The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, May. 20, 2022

Cougars pick up first WBL win 67-58

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

A 23-4 second half run by Van Wert proved to be big as the Cougars picked up their second consecutive win with a 67-58 victory over Kenton at the Cougar’s Den on Friday night.

It was the first Western Buckeye League win of the year for Van Wert (3-9, 1-4 WBL). The Wildcats, who hadn’t played since January 8 due to internal strife dropped to 0-10 (0-4 WBL).

Aidan Pratt had eight points and a pair of big blocks during Van Wert’s 67-58 win over Kenton on Friday. Bob Barnes/file photo

“It was a good team effort,” Van Wert head coach Ben Laudick said. “We knew Kenton was going to come in and give their best effort and they did, but we were able to make more stops and hit some free throws toward the end. It’s difficult to win in the WBL.”

A layup by Kenton freshman Gavin Payne gave the Wildcats a 34-32 lead with 4:50 left in the third quarter, but the Cougars answered with 15 of the quarter’s next 19 points. Owen Treece scored seven of those points, while Nate Jackson added a pair of buckets and Ethan Brown swished in a three pointer to help give Van Wert a 47-38 lead entering the final period.

The Cougars scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter, including two baskets by Aidan Pratt and led 54-38. However, the Wildcats clawed back and trimmed the lead to just six, 58-52 with 2:10 left. Treece, who finished with 32 points, helped ice the game by going 6-for-6 at the foul line down the stretch. It was Treece’s third game of at least 30 points this season.

Brown added 13 points, including three triples and Laudick said his increased scoring is a boost to the team.

“At the start of the season it was a little bit of a struggle for him because he was trying to play side-to-side instead of attacking the basket,” Laudick said. “He’s quick and athletic and when he can get to the basket good things are going to happen. He’s knocking down some shots with confidence right now.”

“Everyone knows Owen is going to get his points and I’m glad we’re getting another scorer out there,” Laudick added. “Aidan (eight points) was close to double digits so we have guys trending in the right direction and that’s what we’re looking for right now.”

The Cougars finished 26-of-47 from the floor and 9-of-11 from the foul line with 19 rebounds and 21 turnovers. Kenton was 23-of-60 shooting and 7-of-13 from the free throw line with 16 rebounds and 23 turnovers.

Van Wert scored the first seven points of the game and with the help of pressure defense pulled ahead 10-2 before Kenton came back and led 15-14 with a buzzer beater by Jacob Eversole, who went on to finish with a team high 16 points.

“We wanted to get out to a fast start just because of the situation that they were in and we knew they hadn’t played in three weeks and we wanted to set the tone,” Laudick explained. “Credit their kids, they came back and returned the favor with the press.”

The Cougars held a 23-20 lead in the second quarter but missed their next 10 shots and trailed 24-23 at halftime.

Van Wert is scheduled to host Lima Central Catholic today, with the junior varsity game set to tip off at 4 p.m.

“They’re going to present some problems,” Laudick said of the Thunderbirds. “I wouldn’t say they’re the tallest team but they’re probably one of the taller teams we’re going to play, and they have some guards who can move quickly.”

Scoring summary

Van Wert 14 9 24 20 – 67
Kenton 15 9 14 20 – 58

Van Wert: Ethan Brown 5-0-13; Owen Treece 10-9-32; Garett Gunter 3-0-6; Ty Jackson 1-0-2; Aidan Pratt 4-0-8; Nate Jackson 2-0-4; Connor Pratt 1-0-2

Kenton: Jayden Cornell 3-1-8; Zac Swaney 3-1-8; Jacob Eversole 5-4-16; Jarrett Jolliff 4-0-9; Kooper Johnston 0-1-1 Gavin Payne 7-0-14; Gunnar Stout 1-0-2

JV: Van Wert 62-38

POSTED: 01/29/21 at 11:43 pm. FILED UNDER: Sports