Boys basketball: Kennedy's potential on full display in home tourney split
Last week's Kennedy Classic tournament was a perfect microcosm of the Trojan boys basketball program this year.
The Trojans opened the tournament with a blistering win over the Monroe Dragons on Friday, shooting the lights out of the gym to the tune of a 70-57 victory. The next day in the tournament championship against 4A Molalla, the team was unable to repeat the performance, falling just short in a 60-59 loss to fall to 3-2 on the season.
"Some nights I think we look like we can beat just about anybody," Kennedy head coach Karl Schmidtman said. "And then other nights we make some self-inflicted wounds, but I think the potential is there for this season to be pretty good."
That potential was readily apparent on Friday night, as the Trojans zipped out to a quick 24-7 lead over the Monroe Dragons, thanks to the shooting tandem of Mason Boen and Carson Hall.
As the Dragons sought to keep Kennedy from giving the ball in the post to big men Rocco Carley and Emorej Lynk, it created opportunities for the Trojans to rain down 3s with impunity, which Boen and Hall took advantage of by knocking down 10 triples in the game.
"When our shooters are hitting, we're pretty tough to guard," Schmidtman said.
Although Monroe was able to cut the score to 33-26 at the half, the Trojans were able to hold the Dragons at arm's length for the remainder of the game and held on for the double-digit victory.
Boen led the team with 18 points, all from beyond the arc, while Hall added 15 points in the win. Luke Hall chipped in 12 and Lynk scored 10.
The following night, the shoe was on the other foot. This time, Molalla was the team to jump out to the big lead, taking a 19-12 advantage after the first quarter, forcing Kennedy to play catchup.
The Trojans were able to go toe-to-toe against their 4A opponent, led by 21 points from Lynk, but the Indians held a 16-6 scoring advantage on the foul line and were able to hold off the Trojans to claim the tournament championship.
Luke Hall and Carson Hall once again scored in double figures, going for 15 and 10 points, respectively. Carley added nine in the loss.
Despite Kennedy failing to get the desired result, the game was a good indication of how well Lynk has improved after a strong freshman season last year. The athletic forward can score from a variety of places inside the 3-point line, has added an improved jump shot to his repertoire and possesses strong footwork around the basket.
But Schmidtman is quick to point out his role as a locker room leader as one of Lynk's most important emerging skills.
"He was voted team captain and in that role, I'm asking him to speak out more and be a vocal leader, and he did that last night," Schmidtman said after the loss to Molalla. "There's so much respect for him in his talent and his knowledge of the game. When he speaks, other players listen."
That leadership is particularly important as the team welcomes back Carley, a junior post who began his high school career with Kennedy before transferring to Silverton for his sophomore year. With Carley back in the fold this season, the team has welcomed him with open arms.
"The boys welcomed him back," Schmidtman said. "We're happy to have him. He has a great attitude of 'Just tell me what you need me to do. If you want me to rebound, I'll rebound. If you want me to score, I'll score.'"
The road doesn't get any easier from here. Kennedy will spend the coming week on the road, facing three of the top-10 3A teams in the state in Dayton, Blanchet Catholic and Santiam Christian.
"We're doing everything we can to give ourselves some challenges before we start league play, because this league is always tough," Schmidtman said. "We expect Western Mennonite to be one of the top teams in the state like they are year to year. Santiam in Regis won't be too far behind."