Girard vs. Lakeview and Warren JFK at Brookfield, both Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
By Jim Flick
In a back-and-forth battle that remained close until the final minutes, Warren JFK High girls basketball team defeated Girard 53-42.
JFK (4-1) led 19-12 at the end of the first quarter and 30-19 at halftime. But Girard (2-2) stormed back in the second half and trailed by only four points, 42-38, midway through the fourth quarter.
“We knew they weren’t going to go away,” said Warren JFK coach John Baytos.
“The difference was they made some outside shots,” said Girard coach Andy Saxon. “It was one of those days.”
It started out as a high-powered offensive night for the Eagles. Raesha Gaston completed a three-point play to put Warren JFK on top 5-2. Senior Paige Klaric connected on a 3-point shot to boost the lead to 13-6, and later sank another 3-pointer to put the Eagles in front 17-9.
Klaric scored 11 points in the first quarter, which ended with Warren JFK leading 19-12.
In the second quarter, Klaric scored eight more points, including the last four point of the half to give the Eagles a 30-19 lead. After sinking two free throws, she tossed in a short jumper after a teammate stole the ball.
Girard’s Caroline Standohar and Brielle Bello scored the first two basket of the third quarter to cut the Eagles’ lead to 30-23.
But the Eagles again threatened to pull away. When Warren JFK’s Erin McBride sank a 3-point shot late in the third quarter, the Eagles again led by double-figures, 37-27.
Girard outscored Warren JFK 13-10 in the third quarter, but trailed 40-32 entering the fourth.
In the final quarter, Girard again stormed back. After the Indians’ Desiree DeFrank sank a jumper and a free throw to complete a three-point play, Warren JFK led by only four points, 42-38.
But the Indians could pull no closer.
A 3-pointer by McBride gave the Eagles some breathing space. Another McBride 3-pointer with about two minutes remaining put Warren JFK in front 48-40. McBride connected on four 3-point shots in the second half.
Kelsie Massacci scored a breakaway layup in the final minute to give Warren JFK at 52-40 lead.
Klaric was the game’s leading scorer with 24 points, including 19 in the first half.
“She definitely got us started with her ability to create her own shot,” Baytos said. “The opportunities came tonight for the other kids.”
He pointed to McBride, who scored 12 points in the second half to ensure the Eagles’ victory. She was the game’s second-leading scorer with 14 points.
“The best thing about a good basketball team is you have balance,” he said.
Saxon also commended Warren JFK as a balanced team.
“The difference is they made some outside shots,” Saxon said.
DeFrank scored 10 points for the Indians, while Hailey Spalla tallied nine points.
Brielle Bello added six points for Girard, while Katelynne Brainard and Miranda Boyle each chipped in five points.