[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”32″ display=”basic_slideshow”]EAST MARLBOROUGH >> Everyone knew there would be many things different this basketball season, which swings into gear this week after a six week delay due to COVID-19.
What was very different Thursday night at Unionville High School was the Kennett Blue Demons — who have not had a lot of success lately — played with a renewed purpose under second-year coach Jacob Gray.
All the new-look Blue Demons did was come from eight points down in the fourth quarter, and when Andrew Hertz scored in the lane with 4.7 seconds left, Kennett had taken down a very good Unionville squad, 57-56, in Ches-Mont League American Division action.
Hertz led the Blue Demons (1-0) with 20 points and he talked about the decisive last shot.
“We came out of the timeout and the play was for me to get a ball screen, but I looked it off,” Hertz said. “I just went down the lane to the basket and it opened up and it went in. We never doubted we could come back. We have four returning seniors and we are a tight-knit group that believes in each other. We have not had a celebration like that around here for a while. It was a good win.”
Unionville (0-1) had a slim lead at halftime thanks in part to the 3-point shooting of senior Sean Neylon. Neylon led all scorers with 27 points, 19 in the first half, and his three straight 3-pointers at the end of the first half gave Unionville a slim 25-23 lead at halftime.
Things went back and forth in the third quarter with the Blue Demons trying to claw into the Unionville lead. But, at the end of three quarters, Unionville still led, 46-43. But, Kennett outscored Unionville, 14-10, in the fourth quarter and came back from the dead with three minutes left in the game.
“These guys believe in each other,” Gray said. “They kept at it and never gave in tonight.”
When Kevin Nowostait buried a three from the left side, it was a 54-47 Unionville advantage with 3:45 to play. Sam Forte, who tallied 13 points on the night, scored on a follow, and it was a 54-49 game and the Blue Demons had life.
Forte again scored down low to make it a 54-52 game, and after a Unionville miss inside, Zach Lower buried a very long three and Kennett had a 55-54 lead with 1:41 to play in the fourth.
“We got a lot out of everybody tonight,” Hertz said. “Zach Lower comes in after not scoring in the first half and hits two real big shots. That three he hit really was big for us.”
With Kennett holding a slim 55-54 lead and under a minute to play, Unionville caught a break when Forte was called for an offensive foul. Unionville called timeout with 23 seconds to play and worked the ball inside, where senior Jack Regenye was fouled with 13 seconds to go. Regenye hit both free throws and Unionville had a 56-55 lead.
Kennett inbounded the ball and Gray called a timeout with 11 seconds to play.
The Blue Demons got the ball into Hertz up top and he calmly looked his options over and used a quick first step to beat his man and score in the lane with 4.3 seconds to go, giving Kennett a 57-56 lead.
Unionville inbounded the ball under the Kennett basket, and tried to throw it into the frontcourt for a last-second shot, but Hertz tipped it away and Kennett had a very big opening night victory.
“These kids have been playing together since eighth grade,” Gray said. “And on the last play I put the ballin Andrew’s hands and I trust him and the kids all trust each other. No high school player plays more basketball than Andrew and he made a very big shot for us. Total team win tonight for us.”
Kennett 57, Unionville 56
KENNETT (57): Augustine 1 0-0 2, Frazier 0 0-0 0, Schmidt 7 2-2 16, Forte 6 1-3 13, Hertz 10 0-0 20, Lower 2 0-0 6. Totals 18 3-5 57.
UNIONVILLE (56): Neylon 6 11-13 27, Nowostait 4 0-0 10. Regenye 5 2-2 13, Lenkatis 2 0-0 5, Carello 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 13-15 56.
Kennett 11 12 20 14 – 57
Unionville 11 14 19 10 – 56
3-point goals: Lower 2, Lenkatis. Regenye, Neylon 4, Nowostait 3.
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