Section 1 Basketball Leaders

Section 1 Basketball - Kennedy Catholic

Picture Courtesy of Rob DiAntonio

The following article can be found on the North County News website.  Thanks to Rob DiAntonio for his support.

By Robert J. DiAntonio rdiantonio@ncnlocal.com |0 comments by Robert DiAntonio

BOYS’ BASKETBALL – Last season the Kennedy Catholic Gaels won their first Class A playoff game in program history. They fell to Spring Valley, an eventual section finalist, in the quarterfinals.

This season the goals are much loftier – and for good reason. Kennedy enters sectionals at 16-2 and should secure a top seed.

Gaels Head Coach Frank Kelly believes that defense and rebounding will be the key toward making a sectional run.

“Last year we wanted the sectional title but we weren’t there,” senior Ryan Hickey said. “This year we want the section title and to go even further.”

Hickey has provided a huge lift of late. He scored a game-high 21 points in an 80-44 rout of Lincoln Hall on Saturday, Feb. 12.

“We can score with anybody,” Kelly said. “I think we average more points than anybody in the section. But we give up too many points also.”

After coming out flat in the first meeting against the United on Feb. 10, the Gaels were on fire in the rematch, jumping out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead. They held a 21-7 lead after the first quarter and led 33-16 at half.

“In the last few games, we haven’t been coming out with intensity, we’ve been a little flat,” Hickey said. “Coach told us that we’ve got to have intensity from the start. The energy just came from the minute we walked in the door.”

Lincoln Hall Head Coach Henry Taylor had earned his 100th career victory over Dover the previous night, and he believes it contributed to the slow start.

“I think we were still riding the victory from the night before,” he said. “We didn’t come out with any energy. We’ve got to come out with more fight.”

In the third quarter, Kennedy continued the onslaught, outscoring Lincoln Hall 32-11. They took a 65-21 lead into the fourth after a Hickey buzzer beater.

“I told them we’ll have a three-on-three tournament at practice tomorrow if they came out strong (in the second half),” Kelly said. “They responded to that. We wore them down with the press.”

The Gaels’ ball movement was flawless throughout the contest.

“We know each other really well,” Hickey said. “We’ve been playing together since freshmen year. We just work every day to get better. We don’t care about points; we just care about getting [the win].”

“Our passing was crisp,” Kelly said. “We found the open man all day long. We had a lot of layups and wide open 3s.”

Seniors Dan Healy and Frankie Kelly also contributed to the win with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Frankie knocked down three 3-pointers.

Hickey’s surge has definitely been needed with forward Jordan Hardy possibly lost for the season after dislocating two fingers in a win over Pawling on Feb. 8.

“He’s been tremendous lately,” Coach Kelly said. “He is our team leader. He’s been rebounding and finishing better.”

Leading Lincoln Hall (8-9) on Feb. 12 was Corey Blair (15 points), Rodney Scales (13) and Kareem Johnakin (10).

For the United, Taylor thinks their difficult schedule has prepared them for the Class C sectionals.

“We’ve played Poughkeepsie, Arlington and Kennedy,” Taylor said. “We’re not going to see teams that good in our class. Tuckahoe is pretty good and Haldane is tough, but we’re not going to be seeing elite AA teams.”

The Gaels won the first meeting, 71-52, on Feb. 10 behind 30 points from Healy. Hickey added 17, while Frankie chipped in 10. Blair sparked the United with 25 points, while Rashaud Frost added 10.

Kennedy, which finished undefeated at 10-0 in league play, has shown plenty of growth over the course of the season, the coach said.

“We’re light years ahead of where we were the first game of the season,” Coach Kelly said of the squad’s improvement. “We’re peaking at the right time.”

 

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