JFK asserts its dominance
By Doug Chapin
With a schedule that included Ursuline, Cardinal Mooney, Howland and Newton Falls, fourth-seeded Kennedy High came into the Division IV boys basketball sectional-district at Harding High as a real threat to advance to the regional. After all, the Eagles also own victories over top-seeded Maplewood and third-seeded Windham during a 9-10 regular season.
JFK began its quest for a district title Tuesday night with a 63-28 rout of Chalker High, a team the Eagles defeated 83-37 on Feb. 12.
“One thing we wanted to do tonight, we wanted to come in and choke them,” JFK coach Shawn Pompelia said. “We wanted to take care of our business and try to be successful in running our offense and working on some things.”
The Eagles dominated with pressure defense, converting numerous steals into scoring opportunities. JFK led 9-0 before Southington (2-19) got on the board with 44 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Kennedy then scored the first 11 points of the second quarter to a 20-3 advantage which became 32-8 by halftime.
Martae Hainesworth had 12 points, Robert Seger 11 and Brendan Cox nine for JFK. Carl Broadbent added four assists.
Senior Ben Stolba tallied 13 points for Chalker.
The Eagles play again Friday night against Ledgemont (10-11), which defeated Lordstown High, 60-50, in overtime on Tuesday.
“We are going to break Ledgemont down on film, we’ve got a few games to watch. We’ll start on that tonight, as a matter of fact,” Pompelia said. “They are a lot bigger than some of the teams we’ve played. We haven’t done well against teams with size, so I’m anxious to take that challenge on. Plus, they can shoot it. Again, I think our caliber of play and our schedule is going to help us.”
Pompelia said a late loss to South Range seems to have re-focused his team.
“I was very happy with the way we were playing as the season closed other than the fact that we let South Range slip away,” he said. “I was not happy with the performance a week and a half ago, but that loss re-focused us a little bit coming into tournament time. This is what it’s about right now. It’s about moving on, winning and moving on.”
Ledgemont moved on with its victory over Lordstown (11-10) despite the fact the Red Devils won two close games over the Redskins during Northeastern Athletic Conference play.
“This was almost an identical game to the other two except tonight they made the plays down the stretch,” Lordstown coach Nathan Kish said. “We turned the ball over too much and they out-rebounded us and that basically was the difference. They are big, they’re a whole lot bigger than we are. We told our guys it was all going to come down to rebounding and turnovers.
The Devils, who played without injured senior big man Mike Shaffer, got 17 points, 11 rebounds and four steals from senior Steven Cribley, and 15 points from Zach Wells.
“Cribley is, I would say, one of the most athletic kids in the area,” Kish said. “He is very good around the hoop. He missed a lot of shots early but then settled in and he kept us in the game. He made a lot of big shots and a lot of big plays.”
“Shaffer averages 12 points and eight rebounds a game and it hurt not having him, he’s our inside presence.”
The Red Devils never led in the overtime period after an early 3-pointer by Charlie Prince who finished with 20 points.