Jake Ohmer and Austin Fries race after a loose ball.
For the high school basketball purist that loves all the pageantry that comes with a rivalry game, Friday night’s rivalry tilt between Scott and Simon Kenton had it all. A live band, a standing room only crowd and some good-natured trash talking, in addition to an exciting back-and-forth game.
“It’s pretty fun to play like that for sure,” Simon Kenton coach Trent Steiner said of the atmosphere. “Tuesday nights in January aren’t fun. Tonight was fun.”
Simon Kenton’s post tandem of junior forward Austin Fries and senior center Matt Mullins dominated the third quarter as the Pioneers outscored the Eagles 24-14 en route to a 91-77 win. Mullins finished tied for a team-high with 26 points to go with 17 rebounds, and Fries finished with 19 points. The two combined for 15 points in the third quarter alone.
The first half was an action packed 16 minutes that featured a combined 88 points scored between the two teams, six ties and 12 lead changes, several highlight reel plays that were amplified by the oohs and ahhs of the crowd, and even a brief scuffle that was broken up before any infractions were committed when tempers flared following a hard foul inside the final minute of the first quarter.
“That was probably my first standing room only game,” Mullins said. “It was a pretty cool feeling coming out and just seeing the whole stands packed. It was fun to play.”
“I think with Scott being in the same school district as us, that had a lot to do with it. They’re our sister school, so it’s always a rivalry when we play them. We just had to keep our cool and not do anything stupid to get thrown out.”
Scott senior Blake Schneider and sophomore Jake Ohmer pushed the pace of the game in the first half and helped the Eagles gain an early lead. Schneider scored nine of his 19 points in the first quarter, and 11 of Ohmer’s game-high 26 points came in the second quarter.
However, every time the Eagles’ guards hit a 3-pointer or made a drive to the basket, Simon Kenton was right there with an answer. Senior guard Noah Robinson especially flourished in the fast-paced game, scoring 10 first half points off of smooth drives to the rim that he often finished with a finger roll over the front of the rim. He finished the game tied for a team-high with 22 points.
Mullins led the Pioneers with 12 points as they took a 46-42 lead into halftime.
“I didn’t think we did a good enough job in the first half of getting the ball inside,” Steiner said. “It’s like running the ball in football; I wanted to pound that rock. We’re OK playing fast, but we want to play fast for layups or penetrate and kick threes. Not just jacking threes. We imposed our will in the third quarter. We’ve got some big rascals, and that wears on you eventually. It’s like Novacaine.”
The message from Steiner was well received at intermission: pound the ball inside and continue to let Mullins, Fries and senior reserve Barry Deaton go to work.
Mullins scored eight quick points in the third quarter, including six straight during the Pioneers’ critical 11-2 run that put them ahead for good.
“We’ve got a three-headed monster there,” Steiner said. “Barry Deaton would start for just about any team in Northern Kentucky basketball. He understands the team concept. We can only play five guys, but when he comes in I like the energy that he brings for us. He’s so smart. Kind of an unsung hero for us.”
Simon Kenton extended its lead to as many as 20 points during the fourth quarter.
Simon Kenton – Mulins 10 2 22, Robinson 7 8 22, Fries 8 2 19, Sammons 4 0 11, Deaton 2 2 6, Racke 2 0 5, Cottrell 1 2 4, Pracht 0 2 2. Totals 34 18 91.
Scott – Ohmer 8 7 26, Schneider 7 4 19, Witherspoon 3 0 7, Trame 1 3 6, Seay 2 0 4, Duimlao 2 0 4, Hughes 1 2 4, Dixon 0 3 3, Allen 1 0 2, Jolley 0 2 2. Totals 25 21 77.
Halftime: Simon Kenton 46, Scott 42. 3-Pointers: Simon Kenton 5 (Sammons 3, Fries, Racke) Scott 6 (Ohmer 3, Schneider, Trame, Witherspoon).