PATERSON, NJ - In a pulsating contest of the semifinal match of the girls’ Passaic County Tournament, John F. Kennedy High School stayed alive until the very end against Wayne Valley. Played on the Knights’ home court before a standing room only crowd, the game was certainly not for the faint of heart. The most thrilling highlight of the game came at the conclusion of the first extra period.
With 16 seconds left and behind by a score of 56-53, Kennedy was awarded two foul shots. However, to the dismay of Knights’ fans, both offerings clanged off the rim. JFK was able to regain possession and the ball wound up in the hands of Samantha Ferraras. With only a scant second remaining, the sophomore center/forward launched a long, three-point attempt from well beyond the top of the key. Miraculously, the improbable offering hit nothing but net and sent the capacity crowd into utter delirium.
The second overtime four minute period saw the visiting Indians from Wayne Valley slowly pull away to post the final 68-58 victory.
The first quarter featured Wayne Valley racing to an early lead. Behind by a score of 16-6 and aided by slapping on a full court press, the Knights were bolstered by a stop-and-pop. A long three-point attempt by Ferraras fell short as the buzzer sounded.
Kennedy’s Kiana Hardison opened the second frame by twisting and turning through the lane. Fouled while attempting to shoot, the junior guard sank one of two free throw attempts. Valley’s sophomore forward Hailey Cabanas then scored on a drive left. After senior Trinaty Rivera entered the game for JFK, Ferreras dropped in a pair of charity stripe offerings.
An easy cherry pick fast break score by the Indians’ Sofia Neary led JFK Head Coach MarQuette Burgess to call a timeout to calm his troops as Wayne Valley forged ahead by a score of 30-14.
The temporary respite seemed to revive the Knights as Rivera rejected a W.V. shot and followed with an offensive rebound and pass to Ferraras who made two more free throws. Kennedy’s defensive pressure then forced an errant Indians’ pass. However, Valley’s Erin Clark returned the favor by intercepting a JFK pass and scoring as time ran out in the first half enabling the Indians to maintain a 10-point lead.
The third and fourth stanzas saw the Lady Knights determinedly chip away at the point deficit to eventually set up overtime drama. Steady for the entire ballgame was Cameron who directed offensive traffic from the point during the most hectic stretches of the valiant comeback. Ferrerras nailed several long jump shots, one from beyond the key and another from the baseline. Shortly thereafter, a spurt of several wild forays up and down the court by both squads ensued. When the dust had settled, the Indians lead had been whittled to 36-31. The Knights’ defensive pressure continued to rattle the Indians forcing the coaching staff to call several time outs to avoid five second penalties.
As the third quarter drew to a conclusion, Clark and Ferreras traded three-pointers. The frame ended with the Indians’ Neary going to the free throw line and swishing both attempts providing the Indians with a 44-37 lead.
The last eight minutes of regulation saw the Knights continue to fight and claw back from each and every setback. A score by Ferreras brought JFK to within four points. Several controversial calls were whistled by referees which drew the ire of fans from both sides and served only to heighten the already high decibel level of the crowd. Adding to the Silk City fan frenzy was a clutch three-pointer from deep in the left corner by Hardison. With the score knotted at 49-49, the Indians had one more chance to win the game but a driving banker bounced off the rim to force overtime.
Wayne Hills managed to build short leads during the initial extra period but the red and black’s ability to answer led to the heroics, afore mentioned, by Ferraras.
The Lady Knights finished the season with a 13-9 record including three victories over cross town rival Eastside.
Know a story we should share with readers? Email editor Steve Lenox and tell him about it.