Valley finds out Kennedy even better in person

By Philip Cmor

pcmor@altoonamirror.com

DuBOIS — About 5 minutes into Juniata Valley’s PIAA Class 1A second round basketball playoff game, a Green Hornets fan yelled to his team from high in the bleachers at DuBois Area High School’s Beaver Gymnasium.

“Slow it down. Get them out of their game.”

Another fan not far away responded softly to his son: “It’s not going to be that easy.”

It’s wasn’t.

Powered by its transition offense, defending state champion Kennedy Christian literally ran away from the District 6 consolation game winner, scoring 40 fastbreak points en route to squashing the overmatched Green Hornets, 88-45.

“They’re just long. They have length. They have athleticism. They’re quick,” Valley coach T.J. Anderson said. “Film shows you a lot. But real time … it’s quick.

“That’s a great program. That’s a pretty good team.”

Juniata Valley senior Jared Pilch offered a smile when assessing the problems the District 10 champion Golden Eagles offer after the Hornets finished the year 12-14.

“They’re very long and they’re very quick. The second we put the ball in the corner, they were there to trap us. I mean, when you’re long and fast, it’s very hard to compete,” Pilch said.

Valley fell behind quickly by 10, and Kennedy had increased the margin to 20-4 just over the midway point of the first quarter.

It was a 20-point difference after one. Drew Magestro’s bucket with 5:05 left in the second half made it 66-26 — not only were the Eagles running, so was the clock.

Quinn Zinobile was the only Valley player to reach double figures with 15 points, and Jaxson Rand scored nine before coming up lame after a Kennedy bucket late in the third quarter.

Although Kennedy forced a couple of turnovers early off the press and scored off of them, the Hornets only turned the ball over 14 times in the game. For the most part, Kennedy Catholic forced tough shots, outrebounded the Hornets 48-29 and outran its opponents to the other baseline.

“We feel we’re athletically better than some teams, and the idea is to get them scrambling to score, even if they score,” Eagles coach Rick Mancino said. “It’s OK if they score a basket. We want to get them running.”

Zinobile, at 6-foot-3, was Valley’s tallest rotation player by 3 inches. Kennedy started four players at least 6-2, including 6-8 center Marcin Wiszomirski and 6-5 sophomore guard Maceo Austin, whose game-high 20 points included a couple of rim-rattling dunks.

“With their length, they can just pass over you. They never have to dribble,” Anderson said.

Four Eagles scored at least 12 points. In addition to Austin, who already has four Division I scholarship offers according to Mancino, including Penn State, Magestro, a Pitt-Johnstown recruit, scored 17, and Wiszomirski and fellow forward Mohamed Konate netted a dozen points apiece.

The Eagles will next face undefeated Elk County Catholic, the District 9 champion, in the quarterfinals on Saturday.

“We’re fortunate to have one of the best backcourts in high school basketball,” Mancino said. “We’re fortunate to blend speed with aggressive size. The guys have been playing together for a while, too.”

It was hard for Valley to come up with potential ways to keep the game more in hand.

“Maybe we could have moved the ball a little faster,” Pilch said. “But, I don’t know. We’re a young team. I thought some of the guys might have panicked when they got the ball.”

Pilch and Matt Grissinger, who scored eight and hit two fourth-quarter 3s, were the only seniors Anderson started, and Blake Morrison has been the only upperclassmen in the 10-man regular rotation for the Hornets.

Last Saturday’s win against Imani Christian was Valley’s first interdistrict playoff victory since 1999. With Zinobile and Cameron Collins leading the way, the Hornets will have a nice nucleus for 2017-18.

“We’ll have to get better in the offseason if we want to compete with (teams like this). We can do that,” Anderson said. “You get out here, get against these guys that are really good, we did what we could. We tried to make some adjustments at halftime. We just fell short.”:

KENNEDY CATHOLIC (88): Magestro 7 0-0 17 Phillips 3 3-3 10, Austin 8 2-2 18, Konate 5 2-3 12, Wiszomirski 6 0-0 12, O’Dell 2 1-1 5, Norman 2 0-0 4, B. Taylor 0 0-0 0, Amos 3 0-0 6, Herster 2 0-0 4, Hartwick 0 0-0 0, Cianci 0 0-0 0, Mancino 0 0-0 0, N. Taylor 0 0-0 0, Eilam 0 0-0 0. Totals — 38 8-10 88.

JUNIATA VALLEY (45): Collins 3 0-1 6, Grissinger 2 2-2 8, Pilch 0 2-4 2, Rand 4 0-0 9, Zinobile 6 3-4 15, Leri 0 2-2 2, Deihl 0 0-0 0, Hensor 0 0-0 0, Musser 0 0-0 0, Morrison 0 0-0 0, Walters 1 0-0 3, Eichelberger 0 0-1 0, Henderson 0 0-0 0, Sajeski 0 0-0 0. Totals — 16 9-13 45.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Kennedy Catholic 32 33 23 10 — 88

Juniata Valley 12 10 8 15 — 45

3-point goals: Kennedy Catholic 4 (Phillips, Magestro 3); Juniata Valley 4 (Rand, Grissinger 2, Walters).

Records: Kennedy Catholic (23-2); Juniata Valley (12-14).

Officials: John Zimbardi, Kevin Teaberry, Steve Hopkins.

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