PATERSON, NJ - Presenting a balanced offensive attack combined with a ferocious full court press defense, the John F. Kennedy High School boys’ varsity basketball team cruised to a convincing 86-37 victory over Passaic Valley Saturday. The quarterfinal match of the Passaic County Tournament allowed the host Knights take another step toward defending last year’s championship title and this year’s #1 seed.
The win upped Kennedy’s season record to 17-2.
The Hornets kept pace with their adversaries throughout the first quarter. After successfully breaking Kennedy’s full court pressure, the visitors captured three consecutive offensive rebounds which culminated in a score by sophomore Angel Rodriguez. The guard/forward then knocked down a 20-foot jumper to give P.V. a 4-0 lead.
The Knights’ first points came on a hard dive to the bucket score by Yasan Crawford, courtesy of a nifty assist from senior center Jalen Hargrove. Point guard Elliot Whitney countered with a three-pointer for the Hornets. However, it was then that the Knight’s defensive pressure kicked in.
Two consecutive steals led to baskets, including a lay-in by Hargrove, which resulted in the red and blue enjoying their first lead with 4:34 left in the initial frame. Passaic Valley answered with a trey but the Knights caught the Hornets’ defense napping with an easy, under the basket cherry-pick. Buoyed by the sensational offensive play of senior Jamahi Carnegie and sophomore Jayquan Briggs, the Knights continued to build their lead and never looked back.
Following a successful 15-foot jumper by P.V.’s Brian Whitney, J.F.K.’s Deishon Harrison charged the length of the court and tossed in a spectacular 10-foot banker as the first quarter buzzer sounded. However, the score was nullified by a traveling violation.
The second frame was inaugurated with a nifty, in the lane spin score by Briggs. Hargrove then, from the paint, kicked out to Jesus Romero for a 20-foot jumper from the right corner. Following a smooth lay-up by Herber, Romero rejected a shot and teammate Kyle Readus forced a Hornet turnover. A block by Herber led to a successful fast break and was followed by a pair of Romero free throws which saw the Knights’ lead balloon to 36-15.
The home team’s first half accomplishments were concluded by two successful offerings from the charity stripe by sophomore forward Yasan Crawford and a P.V. turnover due to defensive pressure applied by senior Reynaldo Santos.
The second half was all Kennedy as the capacity crowd was treated to several highlight reel worthy plays. Following a tie-up near midcourt between Hargrove and Rodriguez, Herber pick-pocketed a Hornet pass and fed Crawford for a fast break score. Kennedy fans then expressed their displeasure as Hargrove was tagged with a foul on what appeared to be a P.V. traveling violation. However, the senior pivot-man quickly countered by muscling in for two points from his own left, low post. Herber then cashed in another bucket after the Knights had captured no less than four consecutive offensive rebounds. After the dust had settled, the Knights enjoyed a commanding 65-33 advantage.
The final quarter saw Paterson Head Coach Tommie Patterson substitute liberally. Bolstered by the hustling play of tall-drink-of-water, junior Bre’quan Moore, the Knights’ fast break transitioned into full gear. As action intensified, senior Brandon Lugo dropped in a pair from the free throw line after being virtually mugged in the lane. Paterson’s senior John Demota followed with a dramatic block of a Passaic Valley lay-up attempt. A resounding dunk by Briggs nearly brought the house down and served as the exclamation point to the spectacular win.
In conclusion, a consistent source of stability through the contest for the Knights was Harrison. Whether scoring, playmaking, or rebounding, the senior point guard’s leadership proved vital. During his brilliant career, the senior point guard has exhibited uncanny calm in the most precarious and heart-stopping of hardwood situations.
“I think we started out a little slow in the first quarter,” veteran helmsman Coach Tommie Patterson stated. “However, we focused on stopping heir two best players, number 12 and number 5 (Angel Rodriguez and Brian Whitney), after that. The pair only had a combined seven points in the second quarter. Now, we have
Passaic, next Saturday, which will be a tough game.”
Kennedy was led by Briggs with 14 points. Hargrove contributed 14 tallies and Carnegie added 12. Rodriguez notched 13 for the Hornets.
The Knights continue tournament play at home on Saturday, February 22, against Passaic at 4:30 p.m. The game will be preceded by crosstown rival Eastside High School facing off against Paterson Charter at 3:00 p.m.
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