Warren JFK takes down defending state champion
Eagles topple Cornerstone
for Division IV district title
By ERIC FORTUNE
There will be a new Division IV state champion this year.
Warren JFK made sure of that by knocking off Cornerstone Christian 75-72 in a district final Friday night at Grand Valley High School.
Nate Woods led the Eagles (19-7) with 23 points while Justin Bofenkamp added 17. No basket was bigger than his 3-pointer to give Kennedy a 34-33 lead at the half.
“We knew it was our game,” Woods said. “Him hitting that 3 just gave us a whole new level of momentum. I made a promise to my team that we weren’t going out like we did last year.”
Before that the Patriots (18-6) and Eagles played nearly even in the first quarter as Cornerstone led 18-17.
“I thought in that first half, we had two or three chances to break the game open,” Cornserstone Christian coach Dan Selle said. “I think we squandered a few opportunities in that first half to create some space.”
Michael Bothwell led the Patriots with a game-high 41 points. Adam Lambert added 11 and Jeremey Owens had 10.
Bothwell had 18 points in the first half and the Eagles took their chances with letting him trying to beat them while trying to stop his teammates.
“It was just the way it went,” Warren JFK coach Mark Komlanc said. “We knew how good he was. It kind of carried out in the first half. Could we shut him down? Obviously we couldn’t. We made a conscientious effort to make him have to kick and if he didn’t we were going to live with it.
“Some guys that make shots for them didn’t tonight. It was pick your poison and we went with that tonight.”
The Eagles were able to withstand the Patriots in the first half after they jumped out to a 31-24 advantage with 2:43 left.
The complexion of the game changed when Kennedy finished out the quarter on a 9-0 run bookended by the Bofenkamp 3.
“They’re fighters,” Komlanc said. “I told them at halftime that was the worst half of basketball we played all season and we were still winning. A lot of that had to do with Cornerstone. They are unbelievable. They wouldn’t let us do anything we wanted in the first half. So we had to adjust.”
The Eagles took the momentum from the end of the first half and built on it, outscoring the Patriots 21-11 to open up a 55-44 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“We were trying to help a little bit earlier,” Komlanc said. “I don’t know if that was so much us. He might have been saving himself because he had that huge fourth quarter. Thankfully, the clock was in our favor. If it would have went on much longer, he probably would have had enough left in the tank to will them to victory.”
Komlanc wasn’t kidding as Bothwell, who had just two points in the third quarter, nearly willed his team back to get it within four as he scored 21 points in the fourth.
“It was tough and I think they deserved to win,” Selle said. “Giving up 75 points, we just didn’t get enough stops.”