West Holmes Boys Basketball

Knights dominate the first 8 in taking down Red Riders 57-44

Ethan Kinsey and the Knights set the tone early in win over Orrville

Regulation high school basketball games are usually 32 minutes long. It takes that amount of time to determine a victor. However, one could make a case that the West Holmes Knights won their season opener over Orrville in the first eight minutes.

As the two teams opened the 2017-18 season at the Dungeon at West Holmes High School on Friday, Dec. 1, the Knights got blistering hot from downtown in the first quarter and rode that hot shooting to a 24-6 first-quarter advantage that paved the way for a 57-44 victory.

West Holmes senior Chase Wells and Orrville’s Cayden McDaniel traded scores early, but then the Knights just went off.

“It was one of those things where we talked before the game about getting off to a good start,” said Keith Troyer, West Holmes head coach. “The first game of the season is always tough to get settled in. Then we came out and hit some early shots, and that got us going.”

Ethan Kinsey converted a Shane Jones steal into a lay-in, and Chase Wells scored on a traditional 3-point play and then scored on a drive to make it 9-2. Orrville’s Ben Underwood scored inside, but after a Chase Wells free throw, Chance Wells rained in a long trey to make it 13-4. Chase Wells hit two free throws before Underwood scored on two free throws, but West Holmes zeroed in from deep. Kinsey ripped a triple from the corner, and Bryce Myers hit two straight to give the Knights a 24-6 edge through one quarter.

As if to put an exclamation point on the downtown scoring barrage, Chance Wells nailed a long 3-pointer from the top of the key to push the lead to 27-6.

From that point on the two teams battled back and forth, but the damage had been done.

“They were playing with a lot of emotion early on, and they were ready to go, and we weren’t,” Orrville head coach Sly Slaughter said. “They got hot early on, and we had to switch some things up, and once we did that, we kind of cooled them down a little bit, but the first quarter was the difference in the game.”

Ben Summer helped get the Red Riders back on track with four straight points to carve the deficit to 27-10. However, West Holmes continued to keep the pressure on Orrville and led 33-12 when Kinsey hit a pair of free throws. Orrville got scores from Seth Hill and R’Kai Robinson right before the half to trim the deficit to 33-16. Underwood got the Red Riders back to within 35-21, but the Knights made a mini run midway through the third quarter.

Myers canned yet another 3-pointer. A lay-up by Kinsey, four free throws from Chase Wells and a Jacob Goudy score pushed the lead back to 22 points at 47-25. That was when Robinson started to take charge.

Robinson’s three-ball ended the third quarter with the score at 47-28. He then drove for a score and hit a free throw, and later in the quarter he canned a three-ball to make it 50-37.

However, the Red Riders could simply not close the gap as Chase Wells kept them at bay with a host of late free throws.

While the Wells brothers both played all season long last year, as did Jones, Kinsey and Myers, both seniors have waited a long time to get a chance to showcase their skills. They did so well with Myers scoring 12 points and Kinsey adding 11.

“This feels amazing,” Myers said after the game. “We needed this win so much, and it was a total team effort. It was nice to step up and contribute, and everyone contributed, especially to that huge start.”

Chase Wells scored a game-high 20 points, adding seven assists, while Chance Wells scored 11 points and added four boards. Jones snagged seven rebounds, tying Kinsey for the team lead.

For the Red Riders, Robinson led with 14 points, followed by Underwood’s 10 points. Hill added six points and eight rebounds for Orrville.

While the 3-point game was key, Slaughter said the other factor in the early going was West Holmes’ defense. “We could have made it a little bit more of a game, but that was a credit to them defensively,” Slaughter said. “They came out and got after us.”

Slaughter said they wouldn’t make excuses, noting that they expect to win. He said they simply didn’t handle things well in the first half. “We’re a young team. We only have one senior, and we only had two guys who actually had any varsity experience,” Slaughter said. “It’s going to be a learning process, and we are going to get better.”

As for the Knights, who have won just two games in each of the past two seasons, getting off on the right leg was a huge shot of confidence.

“What I liked to see is the balance,” Troyer said. “We haven’t seen four guys in double figures in a long time. We forced some passes when we had the big lead, but we’ll take it. We really didn’t quite know what to expect, but when you hit a couple of shots early, you can see the confidence level grow. I thought everyone did things well tonight. Wins have been pretty slim here for us lately, but this is huge because we need to get back to the point where we expect to win when we step out on the floor.”

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