JFK hangs in, but run helps Irish hold on
Warren JFK 39
Next: Ursuline at Bedford, 7:30 p.m., Thursday
Next: Warren JFK at Yo. Christian, 7:30 p.m., Thursday
By Doug Chapin
A 7-0 run in the final 2:02 of the third quarter put Ursuline High in control, 31-22, and the Irish went on to a 44-39 girls basketball victory Monday night over Warren JFK.
Ursuline (10-4) pushed the lead to 12 points in the fourth quarter and the Eagles (13-3) never got closer than five points.
“That was the difference in the game, that stretch,” Ursuline coach Sean Durkin said. “We knew JFK wasn’t going away and once we got the lead we were able to pull them out of their zone and make them defend a little farther out than they wanted to. That stretch at the end of the third quarter was huge.”
Courtney Powell had 15 points and 15 rebounds for Ursuline, helping the Irish to a 36-27 edge on the boards. Ja’Niece Whitehead scored 10 points and Aurielle Irizarry added nine despite getting into foul trouble early. Sydney Beasley had five assists for Ursuline.
Senior guard Paige Klaric scored 19 hard-earned points for Kennedy on 4-for-14 shooting from the field. She shot 10-for-13 from the foul line and was constantly harassed by the Irish defense.
“Whoever was watching Klaric had no other responsibilities. They weren’t helping out, but everyone else was helping them and the others did a good job of it,” Durkin said. “You need interchangeable players against someone as good as Klaric. She‘s very quick, she‘s very talented. I wouldn‘t want to ask one kid to do what we had our kids do today. It certainly is a weapon we have, having that many quick kids on the perimeter.”
Whitehead guarded Klaric most of the time for Ursuline, but she was spelled by Rakia Levesque. The Irish play a pressure man-to-man defense and it was effective.
“I thought we did a great job defensively in the first half, other than that we fouled so much,” Durkin said. “I don’t know how many free throws they made in the first half  but it was way too many.
“We were disciplined in the second half defensively and kept them off the free throw line and that’s the difference in the game.
Kelsie Massacci added nine points for the Eagles and Erin McBride had nine rebounds and four steals.
“We’re down 20-15 at half and I really thought we had some good looks. I just thought we needed to make a couple shots in the first half, get some confidence there,” JFK coach John Baytos said. “As the second half progressed, once we start making shots, the kids get a little more active, we bring the pressure up a little bit more. We had some good looks, but the ball wasn’t going in the net. And, of course, part of that was Ursuline’s defense.
“They can really bring the pressure, but I thought our kids did a tremendous job against that pressure.”
Ursuline led 8-6 after one quarter and 20-15 at halftime. The score was 24-22 before the Irish went on their decisive run which included four points by Whitehead and three by Powell.
“To come in here and go toe-to-toe with Ursuline is a real indication of where we’re at right now,” Baytos said. “We have some things to work on and we’ll continue to do that. To hold Ursuline to 44 points is tremendous, but we’ve got to get better on offense. We have to do the little things to be more cohesive on the offensive end.”