CANTON — Every time Kenston’s girls basketball team posed a challenge Saturday night, Wadsworth found an answer.
That usually came from center Kacie Evans or forward Maria Busson, as the Grizzlies defeated the Bombers 57-31 as a part of the Bulldog Battle at the Canton Memorial Fieldhouse.
The seniors led an otherwise balanced scoring night for Wadsworth (1-0), as the 6-foot-1 Evans tallied team highs of 16 points and eight rebounds and the 5-10 Busson added 12 and five.
“They are seniors that have been in the program a long time, and they understand what we want them to do and how we want them to do it,” Grizzlies coach Andrew Booth said. “I thought we did a great job of our bigs outrunning their bigs, and we’ll probably have an advantage almost every night in that situation.”
Evans and Busson proved a tall task for Kenston (0-1), a defending Division I regional semifinalist.
After the Bombers’ Rachel Apshago started the game with a three-point play, the Grizzlies went on a 9-0 run to take the lead for good. Evans dropped in four points and Busson three.
“It was especially fun getting back with the team and getting back in shape,” Evans said. “We executed really well down low. We knew we had to defend well to get the ‘W.”’
Kenston went on an 8-0 run to start the second quarter, as three players each scored on field goal, including junior guard Graci Skala’s 3-pointer that cut Wadsworth’s lead to 18-15.
Evans stopped the streak midway through the second quarter with a bucket and hit the foul shot for a three-point play. From there, the Grizzlies turned up the pressure to spark a 10-0 run to take a 28-15 lead late before half.
“That’s been our strong point through the preseason,” Booth said. “Our defense is way ahead of our offense, which is probably the way I’d prefer it to be. I thought we were able to speed Kenston up and get the breaks in our favor.”
Wadsworth forced the Bombers into 21 turnovers, including 18 in the first three quarters.
Kenston went on an 8-4 run early in the second half, with all the scoring done by senior forward Rayonna Peterson (14 points, 9 rebounds), to bring the score to 36-25.
Busson, who missed last season with a torn ACL, put an end to the run with a basket with three minutes left. After junior forward Taylor Leatherman failed to complete a three-point play but grabbed her own rebound and scored, Busson struck again, this time on a 3-pointer to give the Grizzlies a 45-25 lead after three quarters.
“Honestly, it feels like a different game out there, and I don’t take any moment I have out there for granted,” Busson said. “It feels great to finally feel 100 percent again and to play how I know I can play.”
Wadsworth 57, Kenston 31
Bulldog Battle at Canton McKinley
KENSTON 7 10 8 6 — 31
WADSWORTH 18 12 15 12 — 57
Kenston — Catara DeJarnette 2-2-7, Rayonna Peterson 6-2-14, Mykaya Montgomery 0-0-0, Rachel Apshago 1-1-3, Kathryn Taylor 1-0-2, Graci Skala 2-0-5, Eden Kesler 0-0-0, Regina Artale 0-0-0, Chloe Thomas 0-0-0. TOTALS: 12-5-31.
Wadsworth — Taylor Leatherman 3-0-7, Maria Busson 4-3-12, Kacie Evans 6-4-16, Kylee Batey 2-0-4, E’Anna Won 3-0-6, Maggie Long 2-0-4, Stephanie Andrews 2-0-4, Regan Simpson 2-0-4, Ky’sonna Won 0-0-0, Ciena Matheny 0-0-0, Allie McCall 0-0-0. TOTALS: 24-7-57.
3-point goals — Skala, DeJarnette, Leatherman, Busson. Rebounds — Wadsworth 38 (Evans 8), Kenston 20 (Peterson 9). Assists — Wadsworth 10 (E. Won 3), Kenston 6 (Apshago 2). Records — Wadsworth (1-0), Kenston (0-1). Junior varsity — Wadsworth 36, Kenston 31.