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Slater’s Slant – Kennedy Catholic Basketball

The following article can be found HERE and was written by  Chuck Slater.

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This is the season Billy Kelly had been waiting for, the season when he would start for his coach/father’s Kennedy Catholic High School basketball varsity and direct it from his accustomed point guard position. He had been a backup point guard to his brother Frank as the Gaels won league titles the past two seasons. Now it was his turn.

Well, half of that dream will be realized when JFK opens its basketball season at home to Hackley on Dec. 4.

Billy Kelly will be starting. But the 5-7 senior will be at off guard, not point guard.

“We definitely have two kids who can play point guard well, Billy and sophomore Mike Demello,” said Coach Frank Kelly Sr. “But probably Mike will start at point guard and Billy at off guard. That’s a lineup I like. It gives me a lot of quickness and a lot of options on defense.”

The youngster has handled his dad’s decision with great defensive energy and without complaint.

“I’d rather play my own position as a point guard,” he said after a recent late practice, “but I’m still glad I’m starting.”

Billy Kelly is starting on a team that hardly looks like the two championship squads that preceded it. Last June’s graduation was a turning point for Coach Frank Kelly. Not only did his son Frank – now starting at point guard for Oneonta as a freshman – graduate, but so did three other starters and eight players in all.

“Rebuilding? I don’t consider it that,” the coach said. “I’ve told the boys we’re reloading with other names.”

The coach’s son concurs. Asked what his goal for this year’s edition of the Gaels is, Billy Kelly said, “To win a sectional championship this time.”

Asked what his individual goals for his senior season are, Billy Kelly said, “To help the team win sectionals.”

It won’t be easy with a B-size school in a tough A league with the likes of Peekskill and Yorktown, particularly after last June’s player exodus.

Among the eight graduation losses, Frank Kelly, Dan Healy and Ryan Hickey – all all-section – were the 18-3 team’s three leading scorers. “We lost 67 points a game,” Coach Kelly said. “But I think we’ll be pretty good. Defense and scoring in transition will have to be a big part of our success.”

On an otherwise smallish club, a lot of the rebounding for that transition game will come from a 6-5 senior who will be playing for Kennedy for the first time — in fact, playing high school ball for the first time. Thiago Randazzo is a transfer from Brazil who played for the Sao Paulo and Brazilia clubs in his native land, where there is virtually no high school basketball of note.

Jordan Hardy and Dima Monaghan, both 6-1, figure as the starting forwards surrounding Randazzo with Mike Arini and freshman Mike Delguidice behind them.

The 5-6 Chris Gillen also will see game time at guard and Mike Ennis is another shooting guard.

“A lot of small kids, but we may actually be faster than last year’s team,” the coach said.

Part of that quickness sleeps in the bedroom next to him. “Frank took to basketball wholeheartedly when he was very young,” the father said. “Billy really got into it when he was 7 or 8. He’s a natural ball-handler who has worked hard at his game. He gives our team toughness, defense and ball-handling. He doesn’t like to shoot too much.”

Perhaps it all started on the basketball hoop in the back of the Kellys’ home.

“Frank always liked to shoot,” Billy Kelly said. “And he was such a good shot that I think I improved my defense just by guarding him.”

 

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