Pierce Cumpstone might not be as big in stature as teammate Eric Truog and he doesn't get nearly the same recognition when people talk about Kenston's 1-2 punch, but the talented 6-foot-7 guard's game hits every bit as hard as the Bombers' big man.
Never was that more evident than upon his return Wednesday night from an injury that saddled him on the bench for two games.
Cumpstone — in his first game back after missing a three weeks with a broken bone in his hand — lived up to his end of the 1-2 punch moniker and was the eventual knockout blow in Kenston's 51-42 win.
Cumpstone scored 13 of his game-high 20 points in the first half — exactly half of his team's 26-point total in the first 16 minutes — and added 12 rebounds and four steals in his triumphant return to the Bombers' starting lineup.
"It's a very simple analogy — I felt like a kid getting at Christmas getting a nice toy," Kenston coach Josh Jakacki said of Cumpstone's first game since Dec. 10. "He is a special player and he does some big things for us. He hit some big shots out there and played extremely well. Without Pierce, I think we might have struggled to win that game."
The other part of Kenston's dynamic duo played a big role in the Bombers winning the grind-it-out affair on the road and remaining unbeaten at 5-0. Truog (15 points, nine rebounds, two blocks) scored eight points in the fourth quarter and was 4-of-4 from the foul line as Kenston put away a dangerous Harvey squad.
"We turned the ball over way too much. We scored two baskets and had three foul shots in the fourth quarter and we didn't do a good job handling the ball late, which you can't do against a good team like Kenston," Harvey coach Marwin Walling said. "When we did foul, they knocked down their foul shots.
"They have a 1-2 punch, and they ride it well."
The Bombers — as they usually do — also rode their defense to another CVC Chagrin win. The two-time defending league champs held the Red Raiders to 5 of 15 shooting in the second half.
Cumpstone, who is going to continue his basketball career at Stone Hill College in Boston next year, said it felt good to simply warm up with the team during pregame and get back into the swing of things. As for scoring 20 points in a win, that was icing on the cake.
"Tonight was very important because Harvey and all the CVC teams are very good and we are always going to get the best out of them," Cumpstone said.
"If I hit outside shots, that opens it up for our big man down low, and if they foul Eric, he is a good foul shooter and he will knock those down like he did tonight."
Cody Shell scored eight points and hit some key free throws in the closing minutes of the win for Kenston, which has a busy weekend, facing West Geauga on Saturday night and then playing Padua just more than 12 hours later at Baldwin-Wallace on Sunday.
"We work a lot on getting it done on the defensive side of the ball, and I am very pleased that we held Harvey to 42 points on their home floor," Jakacki said. "We always say if we get to 50 points, that is a game we should win. But give Harvey credit for scraping and clawing all the way. However, having said that, we have a long way to go in this conference and we have plenty we have to work on."
Robbie Jackson and Colby Quigley shared scoring honors for Harvey (4-2, 0-2 CVC) with 12 points each. The Red Raiders were trailing by just two at the end of the third quarter, but never got closer than three in the final 8 minutes of play.
"I've got a group of kids who have only played together for six games so far, so we are just trying to get them to jel together," Walling said. "A lot of turnovers we had were unforced. Sometimes pressure can get to you when you want to win so bad. But our kids are always going to play hard."