VASJ too much for JFK, 75-54

Tribune Chronicle / Marc Weems Tyler James of John F. Kennedy drives to the basket Tuesday night in the Eagles’ 75-54 loss to VASJ.

WARREN — Villa Angela-St. Joseph got the big road win over John F. Kennedy, 75-54, in North Coast League action. VASJ beat Kennedy the first time, 104-68, at home.

Quickly in the first quarter, Kennedy (7-7, 1-3) fell behind. The Eagles were down 8-2 just a few minutes into the game. Kennedy fought back to tie the game at nine. The Vikings ended the first quarter on a 9-0 run to lead, 18-9.

Kennedy and VASJ continued to go back-and-forth in the second quarter. The Vikings got ahead 23-9 early in the quarter before the Eagles settled in. Down 29-16 with about three minutes left in the first half, Sharrod Taylor hit a 3-pointer and was fouled. That got JFK to within nine. JFK’s B.J. Williams hit a 60-footer to end the first half as VASJ led 33-26 at the half.

Jerry Higgins led the Vikings in the first half with 13 points while Taylor had 10 points for the Eagles.

“We just refused to move the basketball and do the things that worked in the second quarter,” Kennedy coach Mark Komlanc said about its second-half collapse. “In the second quarter, I thought we moved the ball really well. Some guys stepped up and did some things that they are typically used to. We talked at halftime. I thought we had momentum.”

Tribune Chronicle / Marc Weems Kennedy coach Mark Komlanc, far right, urges his team’s defense Tuesday night against VASJ. Guarding Jaden Hameed (1) of VASJ are B.J. Williams (1) and Gianni Eaton (4).

That momentum didn’t do JFK much good as VASJ came out and brought a lot of energy in the third quarter.

The Vikings led by 16 with about two minutes left in the quarter and led 54-38 after three quarters. VASJ outscored JFK 42-28 in the second half.

“I told Mark (Komlanc) this; last year they beat us in the last game of the year and that’s why we won the state championship. The momentum from that catapulted us to the championship,” VASJ coach Babe Kwasniak said. “We won three state championships and I feel like I get treated better here than I do in my own gym.”

Kwasniak said that the big difference was having someone like Higgins leading the team as an experienced senior. Higgins finished with 19 points while VASJ’s scoring leader was Jason Priah with 20.

“It’s not important that you get wins, it’s important that you get better. When you’ve been to five in a row like we have, these are all preseason games to us to get ready for the postseason,” Kwasniak said.

Tribune Chronicle / Marc Weems Terrance King (3) of John F. Kennedy dribbles against VASJ defender Jaden Hameed.

The game didn’t get any better for JFK in the fourth quarter as VASJ pulled away.

“We didn’t execute and we didn’t follow through with what we did in the second quarter. I have to figure out how to get that chemistry to carry over for 32 minutes, not just a quarter here or six minutes there,” Komlanc said.