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NCNLOCAL.COM – Boys Basketball Feature Article

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Kennedy Catholic, Somers High School Junior Basketball Player

Photo Credit: Robert DiAntonio - NCNLOCAL.com

Kennedy Catholic cruises past Middletown

By A.J. Martelli

BOYS’ BASKETBALL – Kennedy Catholic Head Coach Frank Kelly wanted his team to set the tempo early in their game against Middletown on Jan. 17.

Kelly’s son, Frankie Kelly, made sure the pace was set when he exploded for 14 points in the first quarter, leading the Gaels to a 75-60 win over Section 9’s Middletown in the Martin Luther King Day Showcase at Kennedy Catholic High.

Frankie finished the night with 33 points.

“Once you get your first two shots out of the way, your confidence goes up a little bit,” Frankie said. “I try to stay confident throughout the game and it worked out for me today.”

The senior point guard didn’t expect the Gaels to win by the margin that they did.

“I thought it would be much closer and I thought it could go either way,” he said. “Coming into the game, we talked a lot about composure and we kept it.”

Senior Dan Healy finished with 19 points while senior Jordan Hardy added 10 points and eight rebounds.

Like Frankie, Coach Kelly expected a much tighter match, considering he scouted Middletown twice before entering the game. Earlier in the season, Middletown also captured a win over Tappan Zee, the defending Section 1 Class A Champions.

The Gaels are focused on one thing right now: gaining the No. 1 seed in the Class A playoffs.

“It puts us in position for the No. 1 seed,” Coach Kelly said. “We knew we would have to play a good game to beat them and it worked out well.”

Kennedy pushed the pace for most of the game, but tried to slow the game down in the second half against a very athletic unit.

“We didn’t want to make it a track meet because they have some track stars over there,” Coach Kelly said.

In the first quarter, Frankie netted four of his five 3-pointers as the Gaels hustled out to a 21-13 lead. Middletown cut the lead to 21-17 to start the second quarter, but Kennedy maintained control and went on a seven-point run with points scored by Dan Girolamo, Jim Delaney and Healy.

Kennedy led 34-23 at the half.

The third quarter saw the Gaels increase the lead to 50-36. Frankie notched his fifth shot from beyond the 3-point arc. Healy recorded three points, while Hardy put up six. Eric Madonna finished off the scoring in the frame with two points.

Both squads committed several fouls in the fourth quarter, resulting in 26 combined free-throw shots taken by the two teams. Frankie made 10 shots from the foul line in the frame and finished 10-for-13 from the line. The Gaels scored a total of 25 points in the fourth quarter, with contributions from Hardy, Healy and Kyle Trabulsy.

Coach Kelly said the Gaels felt a bit of pressure entering the game, but was happy, overall, that they were balanced on the floor. He tried to calm them down and it seemed to work.

“I have been riding them pretty hard in practice, especially after the Haldane game,” he said. “The kids were a little uptight but we got a good result today. The intensity was there from beginning to end.”

Although Frankie led the team in scoring, he missed two previous games with back trouble. He said there was an issue with the disks in his back, which affected him last year.

He sat out in the Gaels’ 54-53 loss to Mahopac on Dec. 22 and was also sidelined in their 81-56 win over Our Lady of Lourdes on Dec. 20. He said his back is no longer bothering him, as evidenced by his 24 points in the Gaels’ 74-64 win over Haldane on Jan. 13. He added that he was playing at 100 percent against Middletown.

“There was nothing wrong with my back tonight, it was fine,” he said. “Once I get going, I don’t really feel it.”

Coach Kelly commended Middletown’s effort and remarked on how hard they played.

“They are a great team,” he said. “We hit them and they hit us. They got out on a few transitions, but we held it together.”

The Gaels, now with a record of 7-2, have upcoming games against North Salem and Dover. They will play Lincoln Hall to begin the month of February and Coach Kelly expects his team to play with the same confidence they did against Middletown.

“I am very proud of the boys and they gave it their all,” he said. “They didn’t quit and they did a great job.”

Frankie agreed.

“It was just a great win for us and I am happy it fell our way,” he said.