PATERSON, NJ - In a contest that featured spectacular, individual plays as well as team chemistry, John F. Kennedy’s boys’ varsity basketball squad raced to a 28-14 halftime lead and never looked back in a convincing victory over Bergen County Technical High School.
A staunch defense, combined with a balanced scoring attack, enabled Head Coach Tommie Paterson’s round ball disciples to notch a 52-38 victory.
The Knights made an immediate statement by controlling the opening tip which was followed by a pass from guard JoshualWhite to fellow senior Germir Robinson who lofted a nothing-but-net, three-pointer from deep in the left corner. Robinson then added his own assist to junior center Jalen Hargrove who knocked down a jumper from the free throw line. Full court pressure resulted in a Kennedy steal with Robinson again handing off to Hargrove for a score. However, Tech’s senior forward Howell Nunez answered by challenging Hargrove and scoring underneath. Nunez followed with a nifty pass to senior Tony Felber for a fast break score.
Following a wild shot by Nunez that caromed off the backboard, Knights’ senior Jahmir Tyrell drove from the right wing for a spectacular reverse layup. A free throw by Nunez cut Kennedy’s lead to 11-5 with 3:49 left in the first frame.
The quarter concluded with Tyrell driving into the paint and kicking out to Robinson who calmly sank a trey from the left corner. A rousing shot block by Tyrell was answered with a nice baseline drive and lay-in by Nunez. Paterson’s senior forward Avante Gilbert followed with a short jumper in the paint and a turnaround banker from the low, right post. Kennedy’s full court press resulted in another jumper by Robinson.
Tech opened the second quarter scoring with a three-point rainbow by Nunez from the left corner. Kennedy’s senior Dejourn Cook then snatched a rebound, was fouled, and dropped in one of two from the charity stripe. On the Knights’ next offensive possession the power forward fired a bullet pass to Gilbert under the boards for a score. Another Gilbert inside basket was followed by fast break success by White. Tech’ssenior Marc Martinez iced a 15-foot jumper before Gilbert, courtesy of an assist by White, responded with a 20-footer as the second quarter buzzer sounded.
With Cook and Gilbert continuing to rule the boards in the third and fourth quarters, the Knights were able to maintain their 12-point halftime lead but never able to blow out the pesky Knights.
The third frame was inaugurated by a Knights’ traveling violation and saw Tech break a full court press for a layup. Tyrell then picked a pocket near half court but misfired on a dunk attempt. However, White soon went coast-to-coast, was fouled attempting a shot, and cashed in on two subsequent free throws. Nunez answered for Tech with a drive from the top of the key for two.
In perhaps the most spectacular exchange of the evening, Gilbert, assisted by Tyrell, knocked down a ten-footer and then offered Kennedy’s second dunk attempt of the quarter. What the shot lacked in producing points was made up by an incredible display of athletic ability as the crowd roared with approval, despite the miss. Gilbert then atoned for the miscue by slamming down a tomahawk, courtesy of an assist by Robinson. Yet another breathtaking play soon occurred, a near miss of an alley-oop pass, again involving Gilbert.
Highlights of the second half included several challenges of Hargrove into the lane by Tech would-be-scorers, all which resulted in failure. However, several clear outs by the visitorsfeaturing senior guard Brian Ibeabuchi resulted in points. Gilbert and Cook both hit pay dirt from the paint to conclude the third quarter.
The final frame was marked by scoring from Gilbert and JFK’s junior guard Deishon Harrison and a tenacious shot rejection by Cook. Not to be outdone, Bergen’s Ibeabuchi also turned in a spectacular block. Other Tech plays of note included Nunez, on the dribble, racing to the left corner and pulling up for a 20-footer. Ibeabuchi also cashed in on a put back off the glass.
The contest concluded with a flurry of free throws by Tyrell and Harrsion and several missed three-point opportunities by Tech.
Kennedy was led by Gilbert with 18 points and 17 rebounds. Tyrell and White notched six scores apiece. Cook contributed nine rebounds. Nunez paced Bergen Tech with 16 points with Ibeabuchi adding 13.
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