Kennedy boys pull away in physical 63-54 win over Sheridan
Kennedy and Sheridan high schools have come together for some memorable football contests since the Spartans joined the Tri-River Conference two years ago. It's no surprise that some of the physicality would spill over to the basketball court.
Such was the case Tuesday night when the Trojans weathered through an aggressive home game against the Spartans, pulling away for a 63-54 victory at JFK High School.
"I kind of expected that coming into the game," Kennedy senior Luke Hall said. "There's a big football rivalry with these guys, same as Santiam."
Hall scored a team-high 20 points to lead the Trojans, all but two of which came in the first half. Kennedy opened to a quick 10-0 start, eight of which came from a variety of cuts and jumpers by Hall, who finished the first quarter with 12 points.
Sheridan attempted to neutralize Kennedy's leading scorer by calling on senior reserve Elliot Henley, who stayed glued to Hall throughout the remainder of the half. Henley was successful in limiting Hall to just six points in the second quarter, as the Spartans pulled to within 25-24 before Kennedy went on a 7-2 run to head into halftime up 32-26.
"They were really physical with (Hall), not letting him come off screens like he was in the first quarter," Kennedy head coach Karl Schmidtman said. "Luke did a great job of keeping his composure with that physical play all over him."
Toward the end of the quarter, Hall and Henley came together for a rebound under the Sheridan basket that left the Kennedy senior with a large scratch going down his left arm. Hall went to the lockers to apply bandage and tape before returning to the bench.
"Yeah, (Henley) was kind of grabbing me during full court and he kind of scratched me," Hall said. "And then the sweat (got into it). It's fine."
Hall returned to the game to shoot a pair of free throws in the final 30 seconds that came on a technical foul levied to Sheridan senior Braden Mendenhall. It was the second tech of the game for the Spartans, who saw senior Isaac Padilla get T'd up at the end of the first quarter as well for taunting.
"We know Sheridan has great athletes," Schmidtman said. "We know they're physical, and they don't back down. You saw that tonight."
The Spartans needed just over a minute to tie the game in the third quarter, going on a 6-0 run punctuated by a corner-3 from senior Wyatt Schultz. The Trojans responded with a 6-0 run of their own, taking advantage of Sheridan's miscues with the ball to generate quick transition buckets.
With extra attention being paid to Hall, that left plenty of room for other Trojans to take on the scoring burden. Junior wing Isaiah Basargin scored eight points in the quarter, many of which came on transition buckets, and finished the game second on the team with 12 points. Junior post Brady Traeger made an impact in the second half as well, scoring nine of his 11 points in the final two quarters.
"All credit to Isaiah and Brady and those guys in the second half," Hall said. "When you're getting hugged by the defense and they can make plays, it's so great."
Kennedy led 46-39 going into the final period, which was dominated by both teams at the free throw line, combing for 30 attempts. Sheridan was able to pull within 50-46 with just under five minutes to play on a pair of freebies from DeEldon Paulk, who finished with a game-high 22 points.
But with both teams in the penalty, Kennedy was able to take advantage, generating contact to slow down the game, take Sheridan out of its rhythm and get easy shots at the line to maintain their advantage. The Trojans didn't shoot particular well from the foul line, connecting on just 23-of-37 (62 percent) shots on the night. But the sheer volume more than made up for it.
The Trojans went on an 8-2 run to build their lead to double digits with two minutes remaining before the Spartans mounted their final comeback attempt led by Paulk, who scored 10 points in the quarter and was 6-of-6 on foul shots.
Sheridan pulled within 59-54 with 30 seconds left, but turnovers in their final two possessions allowed Kennedy to bump the score out of reach at the foul line to end the game.
In addition to Hall, Basargin and Traeger, sophomore Riley Cantu added 11, giving Kennedy four players in double figures. Senior Bruce Beyer scored seven and junior Dylan Kleinschmit chipped in a pair.
"I think our guys were pretty savvy tonight," Schmidtman said. "Other guys were able to step up and take advantage of Luke almost as a decoy to create their own opportunities.
"I think that's when we're at our best. We share the ball and find the open guy."
"All the guys stepped up big in the second half," Hall said.
Schultz added 10 for Sheridan and Padilla scored eight.
The win allowed Kennedy (10-6, 6-2 Tri-River) to leap over Sheridan (11-4, 5-2) and No. 8 Santiam (12-3, 5-1) in the win column, moving into second place in the conference standings behind No. 2 Western Christian (13-3, 7-0).
The Trojans finish the week on Friday on the road against the Pioneers to open the second half of the conference schedule. The two teams met in December, with Western Christian pulling out a 70-58 victory.
Tri-River Conference Boys Basketball
Tuesday, Jan. 21 at John F. Kennedy High School
Kennedy 16 16 14 17 - 63
Sheridan 11 15 13 15 - 54
Kennedy — Hall 20, Basargin 12, Traeger 11, Cantu 11, Beyer 7, Kleinschmit 2
Sheridan — Paulk 22, Schultz 10, Padilla 8, Mendenhall 5, Henley 5, Gibson 4
Kennedy — 23/37
Sheridan — 19/23
Kennedy — Cantu 1, Hall 1
Sheridan — Schultz 3, Henley 1, Paulk 1
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