By Ryan Jones
WARREN — Warren JFK coach Bruce Timko and his team was locked in a battle with a confident Mogadore squad. Good thing the Eagles had Nick Brown on their side.
The 6-foot-7 senior exploded for 39 points to carry JFK to a 64-59 triumph in a Division IV district semifinal contest at Warren Harding High School.
“I’m glad he’s on my team,” Timko said about Brown. “He’s come through all year for us and tonight was no different. He worked down low. He drove the ball to the hole - which is something we want him to do - and he got to the foul line.”
JFK (15-7) will play Windham (14-8), which disposed of Bristol 78-44 in the other semifinal, in a district final game on Friday at 7 p.m. The Bombers will be trying to earn their sixth consecutive trip to regional play.
With the Eagles holding a 43-39 advantage after three quarters, Mogadore began to press after JFK’s Steve Procopio scored the first four points of the fourth quarter.
JFK broke the pressure by getting the ball to Brown, who navigated the Wildcats defense and got to the foul line. Brown, who made 10-of-23 field goals and 19-of-22 free throws, went 13-of-14 from the foul line in the final frame.
Mogadore coach Russ Swartz said he team had no answer for Brown.
“He scores well inside and he can put it on the deck and get by you,” he said. “If we could have held him to 25 instead of 39 we would have had a chance to win.”
While Mogadore (8-15) failed to contain Brown, the Wildcats exposed the Eagles’ defense by bombing away from three-point range. The Wildcats nailed 15-of-34 from downtown.
“We’ve hit 16 in a game this year,” he said. “JFK went to a box and one on Chad White, but we had other guys step up and hit shots. We got decent looks all night, but didn’t knock them down consistently. We were kind of streaky.”
Timko said he knew coming into the game that Mogadore was going to be tough out.
“They played with a lot of confidence,” he said. “We didn’t think that they were going to lie down. We wanted to stop White and he finished with five points, but their other guys stepped up and hit big threes to keep them in the game.”
Kyle Otto hit four threes and led Mogadore with 14 points and seven assists. Nathan Tarter had 13 points (three treys) and Kodey Chance scored 12, all on three-pointers.
Brown had a game-high 11 rebounds and three blocks for JFK.
Windham jumped to a 11-1 lead in the first four minutes of the first quarter and cruised to a 78-44 win against Bristol
The Bombers full court pressure forced the Panthers into 30 turnovers -many that led to easy baskets on the other end.
Windham coach Marty Hill said his teams effort on defense was the difference.
“Our pressure got to them,” he said. “We needed to play like this with a tough game coming up against JFK on Friday. I thought we were unselfish on both ends of the floor. We pushed the ball in transition and got easy baskets, and when we couldn’t run we ran our zone offense better tonight than we did last game.”
Bristol (8-15) cut the lead to eight, 33-25, in the second quarter but Windham went into half time on a 8-0 run to push the lead to 41-25.