By NATHAN INNIGER
KENTON – It seemed like only a matter of time before Kenton’s post players would exert their size advantage over Riverdale’s undersized front line Wednesday night.
It didn’t happen until the fourth quarter, however, as the Falcons provided a gutsy effort before the Wildcats won their sixth straight game to start the season, 61-49 in nonconference boys basketball action.
Riverdale (1-4), which rotated only seven players and was at a major size disadvantage, hung around for most of the evening and pulled to within 42-39 when Jimmy Fox hit a jumper less than one minute into the fourth quarter.
But Kenton’s post duo of junior Noah Furbush (6-foot-4) and Grant Sherman (6-4) combined for 11 of the Wildcats 19 points in the final quarter as Kenton (6-0) pulled away.
After Fox’s bucket, Kenton held Riverdale scoreless on its next four possessions and used a 7-0 run to take a 49-39 lead.
The Falcons got to within 49-42. But Furbush hit a jumper from the elbow, Sherman made four free throws and Colyn Blackford added two more to increase the Wildcats lead to 57-44 with 2:28 left. Furbush scored 16 points and had nine rebounds, while Sherman added 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“We knew we had the size advantage going into it,” said Kenton coach Matt McCullough. “(Furbush and Sherman) finally figured out let’s just high-low, take it inside and take it strong and they did a good job with it.”
“You bang on (Furbush and Sherman) for 32 minutes, it’s a war down there. I told both Adam Fox and Dillon Farrow, ‘I give you all of the credit in the world banging on those guys,” Riverdale head coach Craig Taylor said.
“But they wore us down. Our shots were short, we missed some free throws that usually we make and that’s legs and that’s depth.”
Blackford scored 11 first half points and led Kenton with 17 in the game.
Riverdale, whose tallest player is Farrow at 6-2, quickly jumped ahead 6-0 and held a 14-12 lead by the end of the first period. The Falcons went ahead 18-14 just over a minute into the second quarter.
The Wildcats then made baskets on five of six possessions, went on a 10-0 run and never trailed from that point on. Blackford had two key treys on consecutive possessions during the stretch.
“(Riverdale) kept it within five points for most of the game,” McCullough said. “We couldn’t get those extra two or three baskets and they did a good job of hitting shots when they needed to.”
The Falcons cut Kenton’s lead to three points twice in the third quarter and once in the fourth but could never get over the hump.
“We knew coming in that if they could get it inside to Sherman and Furbush then we would be in trouble,” Taylor said. “We didn’t have that size or physicalness to match up with them.
“We were doing everything we could.”
Riverdale has lost four straight games, but has stood tall against solid competition.
“Our kids worked, came up a little bit short but I am happy. I thought we improved,” Taylor said
Lee Holderman led Riverdale with 18 points, Adam Fox had 11 and Chad Pever added 10.
It was a bittersweet win for McCullough, a Kenton native who is in his first season coaching his alma mater after leading the Riverdale program last season.
“It was tough, because I have a pretty good relationship with most of those guys over there and it was fun last year coaching them,” McCullough said. “They played hard and well and that was expected.
“Personnel wise, I had a pretty good idea what to expect, but I knew we were going to get their best shot. I knew they would be ready for this game.”
Holderman 6-4—18, A. Fox 4-3—11, Pever 5-0—10, J. Fox 4-1—9, Farrow 0-1—1, Rickle 0-0—0. TOTALS: 19-47 9-19—49.
Blackford 6-6—20, Furbush 6-4—1, Sherman 5-4—14, Bohr 3-0—7, Phillips 1-0—2, Tra. Downing 0-2—2, Kuhlman 0-0—0, Tre. Downing 0-0—0, Halsey 0-0—0. TOTALS: 21-51 16-25—61.
Riverdale 14 11 12 12 — 49
Kenton 12 20 10 19 — 61
3-Point GOALS: Riverdale 2-12 (Holderman 2); Kenton 3-12 (Blackford 2, Bohr).
REBOUNDS: Riverdale 30 (A. Fox 5, Farrow 4); Kenton 43 (Sherman 10, Furbush 9).
TURNOVERS: Riverdale 11, Kenton 12.
JUNIOR VARSITY: Kenton, 41-36.
By NATHAN INNIGER