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Kemp made sure Walsh would be a winner - Olean Times Herald

Tue, Apr 11th 2017 10:25 am

Tavien Kemp made a bet with a friend before the  2016-17 boys basketball season.

"I was like, 'We're going to finish at least .500,'" the  Archbishop Walsh senior recalled. "People around didn't  expect much from us this season coming into it."

The Eagles returned only two players with varsity experience  — Kemp and his younger brother, Latrell Butler-Kemp. They  were counting on contributions from two foreign exchange  students, neither of whom had played organized basketball.

Walsh's success would depend largely on the efforts of one player. Kemp didn't disappoint.

The 6-foot guard put up gaudy numbers that helped the Eagles to a 13-11 record and earned him the Charles M. Ward Award as Big 30 Player of the Year.

Scoring a Big 30-best 33 points per game — and breaking the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association regular-season record with 749 points in 22 games — Kemp made sure Walsh would be a winner.

"He's a very competitive kid," Eagles coach Andy Moore said. "That's really why he came to Walsh — just the challenge of playing there, the challenge of who we play in that league. There were plenty of people that over the course of the summer were telling him, 'You're not even going to have a team, you guys are going to be terrible.'

"He wanted to do well, not just individually but he wanted the team to, too."

The Monsignor Martin Class B Player of the Year posted six games of 40 or more points. His regular-season average led Western New York and was nine points higher than the next-closest scorer in the Big 30. He matched a career-high with 47 points in a December loss at Corning, which went on to win the Section 4 Class AA title.

To cap a 6-1 start to the season, Walsh stunned eventual Manhattan Cup champion St. Mary's of Lancaster.

"People were shocked," Kemp said.

But in addition to scoring in bunches, Kemp displayed strong all-around play, averaging 11 rebounds, five steals and three assists. He rarely left the floor.

"I didn't really have anything specific," he said of his preseason goals, "other than just do whatever I had to do to help us win."

Kemp and his brother accounted for 81 percent (50 points) of Walsh's scoring.

"We'd try to keep the game in the 50s," Moore said. "Those two had to help us get there."

But as Kemp noted, "It was a lot of work to get my points."

No area player faced a wider variety of defensive schemes. Opponents' game-planning against him only increased in league play.

"Franklinville actually started with just two kids guarding me," Kemp said. "St. Mary's did a kind of 1-3-1 where a kid would always shadow me. Bishop Timon would just as soon as I got over halfcourt, another kid would just come sprinting at me to double-team me. And then a typical triangle-and-two on me and my brother, or there were even games, Nichols had some defense called 'wall' where they pretty much would have two or three kids guarding me and one on my brother and then just another kid standing in the paint."


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