Sizzling Warren JFK downs Bristol
By ERIC FORTUNE
Warren JFK put on a shooting clinic against Bristol in a Division IV district semifinal Tuesday night at Grand Valley High School.
The third-seeded Eagles shot 65 percent in the first half and cruised to a 68-52 victory over the top-seeded Panthers.
Warren JFK was 9 of 14 from the field in building a 25-10 first-quarter lead.
“That’s the way we’ve been playing recently,” Eagles coach Mark Komlanc said. “We’ve been locked in and focused. I can’t be more proud of how they came out to start that game. We’ve had a tendency to struggle early on.”
Byron Taylor was huge for the Eagles (18-7) scoring 13 — including three 3-pointers — in the opening quarter. He finished with a game 25 points.
“I watched him warm up and turned to one of my coaches and I’m like, ‘He hasn’t missed,’ ” Komlanc said. “He was shooting deep. He was making everything. He got some really good looks in the first quarter. They weren’t contested. They were all rhythm. Tonight was his night.”
Warren JFK will meet second-seeded Cornerstone Christian in a district final Friday night.
Bryan Gabrielson led Bristol (23-2) with 20 points.
It was a different set of circumstances for the Panthers, who beat the Eagles 57-52 a year ago in this game.
“I felt like if we could pressure them in the halfcourt and not let them get easy looks, which we did early on, it could get us out running,” Komlanc said. “It’s not something they’re used to.”
Bristol coach Craig Giesy pointed out how much Taylor made a difference this year as his team had to double down on Antonio McQueen because of size issues.
“He was a difference maker, playing them last year to this year,” Giesy said. “When you can get a kid like that to come to your program, it instantly turns your team. I thought we did a good job on McQueen, but to do that, we had to leave some shooters open. They made us pay for it in the first half.”
The Eagles’ quick start was a change of circumstances for the Panthers, who haven’t really trailed much all season, Giesy took the blame for how the game began.
“I tried to over-coach the situation rather than doing the things that got us here,” he said. “We had been playing a 1-3-1 the last couple of weeks of the season. We wanted to start in it because we have had a lot of success. We had some good things and bad things happen out of it. We probably should have went to our pressure a little earlier.”
Warren JFK increased its lead to 38-10 with a 13-0 run to start the second quarter before the Panthers’ Phil Aliberti scored Bristol’s first points of the quarter with 2:23 left in the half.
The Panthers trailed 42-21 at the half after shooting just 8 of 27.
Bristol got within 15 midway through the third quarter only to the Eagles push it back out to 23.
“Ultimately, we couldn’t put the ball in the bucket,” Giesy said. “We missed a lot of layups. We had a bunch of unforced turnovers. We played uncomfortable too much tonight.”