Weekly Feature



2018-02-08 / Sports

Kensy collects 400th Maryvale boys hoops coaching win

by JASON NADOLINSKI
Reporter

An 18-2 start to Friday’s game against Iroquois all but assured Maryvale boys basketball coach Mark Kensy would collect his milestone 400th career coaching victory with the Flyers with relative ease, which is exactly what happened as the Flyers coasted to a 58-33 win.

Maryvale’s defensive effort quickly dashed the Chiefs’ hopes for an upset, as the Flyers limited Iroquois to single digit production in two of the three remaining quarters as well to record the comfortable victory. The Flyers’ defensive play also helped fuel their offensive production, as Maryvale pushed its lead to 31-10 at the half and maintained that large cushion heading into the final stanza.

“The two biggest things I can say about getting to 400 wins is that I’ve been coaching a long time, so I’m old – but I’ve had some great players in all that time,” Kensy said. “That’s the only way to accomplish something like this, having great kids. We work hard as a program, and I’ve been fortunate to have been able to coach at Maryvale for 33 years. God willing, I’ll still be going strong for many more.”

Ray Blackwell led the way for Maryvale with 18 points, six assists and three steals, while Mark Bailey (4 rebounds, 4 steals) and Dylan Casey (9 steals, 3 rebounds) each added 10 points – with Casey’s contribution being a somewhat pleasant surprise, since he suffered an injury in the team’s 68-39 triumph over East Aurora just 24 hours earlier.

Ryan Smith pitched in with eight points and two rebounds, while Zach Amato – who, like Casey, suffered an injury during the East Aurora game – added six points and four rebounds. Rashad Law chipped in with four points and eight rebounds.

“It was nice on such a milestone night for myself to be able to get just about everybody into the game,” Kensy said. “We played great defense and played hard in general, which allowed us to dominate throughout the contest. I was just very happy to see that, no matter who we put on the floor, we played great defense.”

A strong defensive effort against East Aurora helped put Kensy in position to record his 400th win. Once again, Maryvale was stingy at the defensive end of the court, holding the Blue Devils to five points in the first quarter and seven in each of the next two while putting up 50 of its own during the same time span. Another aggressive start at both ends of the floor set the tone for the Flyers, as they opened the game on a 17-5 run.

“We just had a great practice the day before and came out with a vengeance against East Aurora,” Kensy said. “We thoroughly controlled the game from start to finish by playing really good defense. We were just determined to prove we were good defensively.”

Law led the way for Maryvale with 17 points, eight rebounds and three steals, while Xaier Mitchell chipped in with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Blackwell (4 rebounds, 3 assists) gave the Flyers three scorers in double figures by adding 12. Christian Gueth contributed seven points and two steals, while Bailey finished with five points and four rebounds.

Maryvale was determined to have a good showing defensively against East Aurora after surrendering a 56-55 decision to Pioneer two days earlier. The loss, Maryvale’s first in divisional action, stung particularly badly since the Flyers had rallied from a 25-24 halftime deficit to begin the fourth quarter with a 47-37 lead.

With the score 53-44 in Maryvale’s favor, a pair of missed layups turned into big swings for Pioneer, which responded to the misses with a three-point basket and two free throws on its ensuing possessions to trim the Flyers’ advantage to 53-49. Law then hit a layup with a minute to play in regulation to put Maryvale back up by six, but three missed free throws within a 10-second span gave Pioneer the chance to pull within a basket, 55-53, with 23.6 seconds to play.

The Panthers finished off their rally with a three-point basket that proved to be the game-winning shot with just four seconds to spare.

“We had opportunities to win, but we didn’t deserve to win and we didn’t in the end,” Kensy said. “We didn’t play with any energy and expectation to win, and didn’t play well enough to win in general. It definitely stung not to win and hopefully serves as a wake-up call as we close out the regular season. But, as much as I hate to lose, Pioneer’s coached by one of my former players in Chris Juergens, so if I have to lose, at least it’s to one of my own.”

Blackwell led the way for Maryvale with 14 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals. Law (4 rebounds, 2 assists) and Bailey (3 assists) each added 10 points, while Casey finished with eight points, seven assists, five steals and three rebounds.

Amato chipped in with seven points, five assists and three rebounds for the Flyers (13-3, 8-1 ECIC III), who took on Lake Shore Tuesday in a game that ended too late for this edition. If Maryvale was able to emerge from the contest victoriously, it will have clinched at least a tie for the regular-season title.

The Flyers close out their week with Friday’s Senior Night contest against Lake Shore – Kensy will be presented with a commemorative ball during the festivities – before wrapping up regular season play against Niagara Wheatfield and East Aurora on Monday and Thursday, Feb. 15, respectively.

“We just can’t afford to take anybody lightly; I never do, and I’m just trying to impress that upon the kids as we approach the playoffs,” Kensy said. “I think the Pioneer game put us on a mission. There’s no reason to have a letdown with Lake Shore right on our heels, that’s for sure.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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