KENT: Coventry forced 10 fourth-quarter turnovers to complete an 11-point, second-half comeback in a 60-57 victory at Kent Roosevelt on Friday night.
“The kids refused to lose,” Coventry coach Lynn Wess said. “I think we got them rattled. We weren’t moving our feet defensively in the first half. We wanted to create havoc and the kids really stepped up.”
The Comets began using three-quarter court defensive pressure in the fourth quarter that trapped and frustrated the Rough Riders guards. The result was eight fourth-quarter steals, many of which came on the Comets’ side of the floor and turned into easy layups.
“I can’t really explain it,” Rough Riders coach Ben Dunlap said. “We stopped doing what made us successful in the first half. We played a very good 16 minutes of basketball and talked about continuing to do what got us that lead. Then we just lost our focus and stopped having quality possessions.”
The Rough Riders (6-6, 3-3 Portage Trail Conference — Metro) had an opportunity to score on the final possession with 10.5 seconds remaining to tie the game, but failed to move the ball in any way to create an open look. Myles Wright, a 6-foot-7 senior forward who was 0-for-5 on 3-point attempts, stood still dribbling for the majority of the time before launching up a 3-pointer several feet behind the line that wasn’t very close.
“That was not the design of the play,” Dunlap said. “We talked in the timeout that when you’re down by three you don’t hold the ball for the last shot, you have to give yourself an opportunity to extend the game. We wanted to get some screen action going to give us an opportunity for two or three things to happen based on what they did. It’s a play that we run every day in practice and we just didn’t get it executed.”
The Rough Riders built a 33-22 first-half lead, led by Philip Grant (13 points) and Spencer Neubert (nine points). Neubert was held scoreless in the second half, and Grant added just two more.
The Comets’ offense was stagnant in the first half, with little motion and many ill-advised shots off the dribble. Coventry had just three assists in the first half. They began to distribute the ball more in the second half to get open looks, resulting in nine second-half assists.
“We were just beating ourselves,” Wess said. “Too much dribbling. They made us rush. Second half we did a lot better job of moving the ball around.”
The Comets (8-4, 4-2) opened the third quarter on a 9-2 run and ended it on an 8-2 run that cut the deficit to 45-40.
The Rough Riders then were limited to just two fourth-quarter field goals as they were smothered by the Comets’ press defense.
Sophomore center Bryce Hargrove and sophomore guard Conner Wess each scored seven fourth-quarter points to pace the comeback. Wess led the Comets with 18 points, four steals, two rebounds, two assists and two blocks. Hargrove finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Wright led the Rough Riders with 18 points and eight rebounds. Grant finished with 15 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals. Joe Watts added 11 points and 10 rebounds.