CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio -- Opposing players, coaches and fans in the Chagrin Valley Conference are well aware of Kenston's 6-10 Eric Truog and 6-7 Pierce Cumpstone. Common wisdom dictates that if you stop them, your chances of winning increase substantially.
On Tuesday, 6-3 junior Daryll Richards gave future foes something more to worry about.
On a night when Truog and Cumpstone were not at their best, Richards came to the rescue and lifted the Bombers to a 66-64 victory over visiting Orange in a game in which both teams showed some guts and grit.
Richards scored 22 points, including the game-winning basket with 5.3 seconds remaining, to help keep the Bombers undefeated and on top of the CVC's Chagrin Division. He also had six rebounds and two steals. The Bombers, ranked 17th in The Plain Dealer Top 25, will take a 10-0 record and a 6-0 league mark to Perry on Friday.
How valuable was Richards?
"Without him, I don't think we win," said Kenston coach Josh Jakacki.
Said Orange coach Bobby Wright, "Whew, he is a lot better than I thought. He is a big, long guard. He is strong, confident and aggressive. He knows his role. He wears the hard hat on that team. He is tough."
Wright has an outstanding guard of his own in 6-4 senior Devaughn Wingard, who led the Lions with 21 points, six rebounds and three steals. It was Wingard's 10-foot running one-handed jumper that gave the Lions hope, tying the game at 64 with 30 seconds to go.
Following a time out, the Bombers put the ball in Richards' hands with the idea that he would get it to Cumpstone, the Stonyhill recruit who is averaging 15.8 points and is known as a reliable 3-point shooter.
"Coach told me to go at 10 seconds and get the ball to Pierce," Richards said in replaying the final possession which began with him dribbling at the perimeter. "When I turned my back I couldn't see him and I knew I had to go to my left hand and put up a good shot. Luckily for me, it went in."
Richards drove to the middle of the key and put up shot that softly fell through the net. Orange (8-3, 5-1) had a last-second shot glance off the front of the rim.
Wright, whose team is 24th in The Plain Dealer poll, was not upset with the loss.
"Obviously, this is a tough place to play," he said. "There are times when you are happy with their play and this is one of those times. For the most part they left their hearts on the floor. It just didn't happen for us."
Truog, a Marist recruit, finished with 17 points and seven rebounds but had a tough night at the free throw line, making three of nine shots. Cumpstone scored 15 points and led the Bombers with 13 rebounds.
Kenston hurt itself at the foul line, making just 13 of 26 attempts to 18-of-24 for Orange. Junior Spencer Williams backed Wingard with 17 points, scoring 13 in the second half.
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