Scoring drought after halftime puts JFK in hole
CANTON — After going scoreless for the first 4:33 of the second half Tuesday night, the John F. Kennedy boys basketball team was on the short end of a 12-0 scoring run that had the Eagles trailing Richmond Heights 40-23 in their Division IV regional semifinal.
Although Kennedy responded with a run of its own, trimming its deficit to five points, the severely outsized Eagles lost their legs and fell 60-47 at Canton Fieldhouse to finish the season 12-14.
“The start of the third quarter was the difference,” Kennedy coach Mark Komlanc said. “If there’s any part of the game we’d like a do-over, that’s it. (Richmond Heights) made an adjustment by going to the half-court trap because they couldn’t stop Cam (Hollobaugh) in the man-to-man. They knew they were in trouble there and made a nice adjustment.
“We’ve seen every defense imaginable, we just didn’t execute and remain patient there. We played a very good first half and we battled back well, but we lost our legs and let the score creep back out again. That final score isn’t reflective of how close the game was or how well we played overall. But it only takes a little lull against a team that good and that long.”
The Spartans improved to 22-4 and will play Lucas (24-1) in the regional final Friday.
All of Richmond Heights’ starters are at least 6-foot-3, including 6-7 forward Josiah Harris, who scored 24 points as the Spartans dominated in the paint — both rebounding and scoring.
Still, the Eagles trailed just 28-23 at halftime.
“I think everybody who came here tonight expected us to get totally blown out except for our players and coaches,” Komlanc said. “They’re in that locker room upset, not that their season is over, but that they truly believe it was a game they could win.”
Harris had seven points in the opening run in the second half and Jamarr Talbert had five. Gabe Green ended the drought with two free throws, a putback and then a 3-pointer as Kennedy trailed 42-30 entering the last period. Green finished with 19 points.
The Eagles pulled within 44-39 with 4:07 left and the score was 46-40 after a Hollobaugh free throw seconds later. After the Spartans scored a quick bucket, Hollobaugh was whistled for a charging foul. That’s when Komlanc got a technical.
From that moment on, Richmond Heights went 10-for-12 from the stripe to expand its lead.
“I called timeout and apologized to the kids immediately,” Komlanc said. “But they understood that we were all battling together. The problem is we got gassed at the end and couldn’t finish our shots. But I’m very proud of them.”