Weekly Feature



2018-01-11 / Sports

JFK tops crosstown rival Cleve Hill, 39-30

Girls basketball

A 16-7 run over the course of the fourth quarter allowed John F. Kennedy’s girls basketball team to break open what had been a close contest against crosstown rival Cleveland Hill Monday and ultimately persevere by a 39-30 count.

JFK coach Melissa Schultz was especially pleased with her team’s fourth-quarter effort against the Lady Eagles, since the Lady Bears have had season-long struggles putting up points down the stretch. JFK was able to keep control of the ball and break through the Lady Eagles’ pressure, which helped the Lady Bears stay in position to succeed after jumping out to a 13-11 lead that became a 22-22 deadlock by the end of the third quarter.

“It was a great game with the girls playing how I know they’re capable of playing,” Schultz said. “Being a rivalry game, the gym just had a great atmosphere going, and the girls fed off that to play the most complete game I’ve ever seen them play.”

“We just ran out of time in the end,” Cleveland Hill coach Darci Secor said. “We continued to play hard defense all game, but they found more success under the basket. We definitely had chances there too, but we weren’t as successful making our simple shots inside as JFK was with theirs.”

JFK, which saw seven girls score on the day, was led by Hannah Thomas’s 10 points and seven rebounds. Shekinah Stewart added eight points, while both Taylor McMahon (5 rebounds) and Ashley Vohwinkel (4 rebounds) netted six points each. Kaitlin Gribble pitched in with four points and three rebounds.

The Lady Eagles, who pulled within four points, 34-30, with 90 seconds to play in regulation, was paced by Amani Scott’s 11 points. Alison McIntosh scored six points to go along with a strong and intense defensive effort throughout the game. Aqelah Douglas, who scored five points, also played a strong defensive game for the Lady Eagles.

Both JFK and Cleveland Hill entered Monday’s contest looking to build off recent appearances that resulted in one win for each club. Both schools also dropped contests to Eden in their run-ups to Monday’s clash.

JFK, which did not play in any tournaments over the holiday break, managed to pull out a 31-16 victory over Lackawanna on Jan. 3 after having not played in a competitive setting since its 47-13 triumph over the Lady Steelers back on Dec. 21. As was the case in the first meeting, the rematch was never really in doubt, as JFK turned its 8-3 first-quarter lead into a 25-10 advantage heading into the final stanza.

Schultz conceded that the game was probably a bit closer than it should’ve been, given the rust that had accumulated during the long layoff – JFK had just one practice over the holiday break and didn’t get to hold practice the day before the rematch due to the weather – but in the end, the Lady Bears were happy to add another league win to their collection no matter how they got it.

“It was a little tough to get back into the routine of playing, but we were fortunate that they just wound up running out of gas at the end,” Schultz said. “But, any league win is a good one to get.”

Kayla Voss (6 rebounds) and Stewart shared the team lead on the day with seven points, while Thomas chipped in with six points and seven rebounds. Vohwinkel finished with five points and four rebounds, while McMahon contributed four points and four rebounds.

JFK was unable to use the momentum of that win when it faced Eden the next night, however, as the Lady Raiders jumped out to a 12-2 lead in the first quarter and never looked back en route to pulling out the 43-17 victory. Eden was particularly ruthless in the second half, outscoring JFK by a 23-5 margin that included a 7-0 run over the course of the final stanza.

“We definitely did not play up to our standards against Eden,” Schultz said. “I’m not sure if it was playing the night before, not really practicing in such a long time or some combination of both of those things, but it just wasn’t our day against Eden. They were able to shoot wherever and whenever they wanted to; they always have a bunch of lights-out shooters, but our defense just wasn’t there for us that day, which helped them do their damage.”

Thomas led the way for JFK with 10 points and five rebounds, while Gribble, Vohwinkel and Stewart all added two points each for JFK (3-6 overall, 3-2 ECIC IV), which returns to action tonight against Alden. The Lady Bears then return to non-league play Tuesday by hosting Buffalo Seminary.

“We’ve just got to have everyone contribute like they did against Cleveland Hill on Monday so that we can try to build off the momentum of that win,” Schultz said.

The Lady Eagles, meanwhile, will be looking to recapture some positive momentum after going 1-2 in their contests prior to Monday’s loss. Cleveland Hill’s lone win during that stretch came in the consolation final of the Springville Holiday Tournament, as the Lady Eagles were able to trip up Middle Early College by a 34-28 count on Dec. 29.

Things weren’t looking too promising in the first half of the game against Middle Early, as the Lady Eagles opened the game in an 8-2 hole. Fortunately, Cleveland Hill got back on track from that point on, outscoring Middle Early by a 32-26 margin over the final three quarters to secure the victory.

“It felt fantastic to win,” Secor said. “We did some research on them and our defense continued to improve nicely – we played pretty well in the previous round too – so we’ll keep after that to where we can hopefully play that well defensively for all four quarters. We were able to shut down their top shooter 
John F. Kennedy’s Ashley Vohwinkel, left, streaks down the court as Cleveland Hill’s Alison McIntosh gives chase during the Lady Bears’ 39-30 victory over their crosstown rivals on Monday. 
Photo by Don DalyPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com John F. Kennedy’s Ashley Vohwinkel, left, streaks down the court as Cleveland Hill’s Alison McIntosh gives chase during the Lady Bears’ 39-30 victory over their crosstown rivals on Monday. Photo by Don DalyPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com pretty well, which helped keep the game pretty close. And, we made 10-of-16 free throws, all of which came in the second half, and that was another big improvement for us.”

Scott led the way for Cleveland Hill with 14 points and seven rebounds, while Krisandra Palmer chipped in with six points and five rebounds. Aqe’lah Douglas (13 rebounds, 5 steals, 2 assists) and Libby LaCourse (2 rebounds, 2 assists) each netted four points for the Lady Eagles, who were hoping to bounce back after falling to West Seneca East in the first round two days earlier, 56-32.

The Lady Eagles kept things close in the first half, trailing just 23-18 at the break, but East was able to pull away in the second half. A 17-9 surge in the third quarter pushed East out front by a 40-27 margin heading into the final stanza, and the Lady Trojans closed out the contest on a 16-5 run to secure the lopsided decision.

“We were really excited to be down just five at the half against an A-1 school,” Secor said. “We outrebounded them and got down the court pretty quickly in the first half, which helped us keep them from getting two, three or even four shots in a possession. East had a bunch of tough, big girls, so it was nice to see us play the way we did in the first half. Unfortunately for us, we just couldn’t put the ball in the basket in the second half.”

Both Scott (12 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals) and Douglas (11 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals) scored nine points to share the team lead for Cleveland Hill. Essence Everett chipped in with six points and three assists, while Mora Sullivan added four points, five rebounds, two steals and a block.

Time off following the Springville Tournament gave the Lady Eagles a chance to recharge, but the gap between times on the court didn’t do them any favors at the same time when they took on Eden Jan. 3. The Lady Raiders jumped out to a commanding 19-5 first-quarter lead that ballooned as high as 41-17 by the end of the third quarter before Cleveland Hill’s late surge made things interesting. Unfortunately for the Lady Eagles, that early hole proved to be too large to climb out of even with their 18-1 run to close out the game, which ended in Eden’s favor, 42-35.

“They just completely shut us down offensively in the first half, but our intensity and hustle in the second half was night and day compared with the first half,” Secor said. “The things we need in order to be successful were there in the second half, but not in the first. They also didn’t make a single shot in the fourth quarter, that’s how tight our defense was. We just ran out of time. The big thing that showed us is that we have to find a way to have, for the entire game, the consistency we had in the second half.”

Scott led the way for Cleveland Hill with 15 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. Douglas added eight points, nine rebounds, two assists and two steals, while McIntosh finished with six points, two rebounds and two steals.

The Lady Eagles (3-5, 1-3 ECIC IV) returns to action tonight against Holland, but then don’t play again until they face Alden on Friday, Jan. 19.

“We just need to continue to improve on putting the ball in the basket and fighting hard under the basket to get second and third chances in a possession, while also playing harder than our opponents on the glass,” Secor said. “The girls are truly building skills in all areas, learning how to play together, learning how to read different defenses and adjusting accordingly when on the court. We will get there because I will push this group to continue to see the growth in these players this year and beyond.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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