PATERSON, NJ - The Merriam-Webster dictionary designates the term ‘fast break’ as, “a quick offensive drive toward a goal (as in basketball) in an attempt to score before the opponent's defense is set up.”  In the second half of their North 1, Group 4 state playoff match against Passaic, JFK Head Coach Tommie Patterson’s hardwood disciples literally redefined the word. The Knights were able to break open the tight contest with relentless, rapid dashes up and down the court.  

The visiting Indians controlled the opening tip-off. Following a Passaic miss and defensive rebound by Kennedy center Jalen Hargrove, fellow senior Deishon Harrison dished to sophomore guard Jayquan Briggs for a driving lay-up and three-point play. The Indians’ senior point man Hector Mateo quickly answered with a drive through the lane and left-handed banker. After the Indians’ Cam’ron Slyvester drew a reaching foul from Paterson sophomore Yasen Crawford, another Hargrove rebound and outlet pass led to a nifty fast break layup by senior guard Mark Heber. Passaic’s Angel Feliz was called for walking in the paint before senior teammate Kendall Malloy knocked down a short jumper.  

Harrison then intercepted a pass and cruised coast-to-coast for a fast break lay-up following the first of three travelling violations called on the Indians in the half. After the Knights were whistled for palming, Passaic’s Malloy fired a bullet to Mateo who slipped behind the JFK defense for an easy two. However, shortly thereafter, Harrison snagged an errant Indians’ pass and found Heber at the left wing for a three-point swish.  

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Up 12-8 with 1:35 left in the frame, Hargrove was able to shake loose in the lane for a reverse layup.  After turnovers were traded, Harrison inbounded a pass from under his own basket to Briggs who notched a banker. Malloy answered with his own two-pointer from underneath but Paterson junior Kyle Readus pick-pocketed a Passaic pass which produced a pair-of-points prize for Briggs. With three seconds left, the Knights were whistled for a technical foul and Sylvester canned one of two free throw offerings.

Ahead by a score of 18-11, JFK senior Bre’quan Moore took the floor to start the second quarter. Following a one-dribble, 20-foot jumper by Sylvester, Malloy authoritatively delivered a cherry-pick dunk. Sylvester then notched a free throw and Harrison was called for travelling. With the score cut to 20-16, Carnegie, despite being knocked down after shooting, converted on a textbook 15-footer to provide breathing room for JFK. 

Carnegie then scored on another fast break after a shot block by Moore. Feliz missed on a free throw attempt but Malloy managed to follow up with a tip-in for the Indians. Briggs responded by driving deep into the lane from the right wing and dumping off to Hargrove for two. 

However, Passaic’s Antrell Monroe came right back with a spectacular driving bank shot. Monroe and Carnegie then traded baskets and the latter dropped in two free throws. Malloy converted another bucket to bring the Indians within 39-26 as time expired. 

The third quarter began with Harrison beating his man for a driving layup from right of the key after a defensive rebound by Hargrove. Feliz then fooled the Knights with a hesitation dribble and driving bucket from the right wing. Malloy scored again from underneath but Briggs beat Mateo for a 10-foot, successful runner. After sophomore Jesus Romero entered the game for the Knights, Sylvester picked off a Paterson pass and fed Monroe for an uncontested lay-up. Passaic senior Edward Pierrot nabbed a Knights’ aerial and scored following a pair of successes from the charity stripe by Monroe.   

However, the promising Passaic rally was short lived as the 47-40 score was the closest the Indians would come for the rest of the evening.

The Knights saved the best for last as their vaunted running game kicked into full throttle. With 1:00 left in the quarter, Harrison, while dribbling, pondered circumstances from beyond the key, juked around his defender, and jetted in for an uncontested layup. Readus then boxed out under the defensive boards, was fouled, and hit both ends of a one-and-one. Moore converted on a sensational drive through the lane and a Harrison pass theft led to two more points.

Up by 11 to start the final frame, Heber drilled a trey and Briggs notched a pair of free throws.  Malloy and Heber both cashed in on driving layups but Harrison was again able to slip his defender for another score.  With 4:20 remaining, Heber, attempting to shoot, was hammered in the lane. Immediately following, the Knights were able to break Passaic’s full court pressure which concluded with a scoring drive from the left wing by Crawford. Kennedy’s fast break continued to defy definition with another basket by Carnegie. Heber then seemingly was set to again score on a convoy but, at the last moment, left a trailer for Harrison to convert.   

After the dust had settled, Kennedy’s lead had ballooned to 79-60 with a little over a minute left. Soon thereafter, Patterson pulled senior starters Harrison, Hargrove, and Carnegie to the warm applause of Kennedy fans. 

The final score read:  Kennedy 83-Passaic 60.  

Carnegie turned in a brilliant performance by leading the Knights with 17 points, collecting eight rebounds, and adding a quartet of both assists and steals. Harrison recorded 16 tallies, six assists, and five rebounds while Heber and Briggs rounded out the balanced Knights’ scoring attack by contributing 15 and 13 points, respectively.   

The first seeded Knights host fourth seeded Hackensack on Saturday, March 7, at 2:00 p.m. for the semi-final tournament contest.

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