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In tightly-officiated game, Trojans hung in to defeat tough 1A defense and claim the No. 2 ranking in the state.

The start to Christmas week was a fruitful one for the Kennedy boys basketball team. The No. 2 ranked team in the state at 2A overcame a competitive and troublesome foe in 1A Trinity Lutheran 65-58 on Monday, Dec. 20.

After a neck-and-neck first quarter ended with a 17-17 score, the Trojans picked it up in the second, outscoring the Saints 17-5. While the boost in scoring was impressive, it wasn't quite up to the standard Kennedy head coach Karl Schmidtman wants to see from his team, partly due to the defense of Trinity Lutheran.

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Kennedys Emilio Sanchez drives to the basket during a fast break offensive possession.

"Offensively for us, I don't think we were as crisp as we want to be," Schmidtman said after the game. "Little bit of indecision at times. Some of that is a credit to their defense, they were switching things, causing ball pressure, trying to disrupt what we were trying to do. That's the first time we've seen a team that really does that … the next time we see it we'll be prepared. But that's a credit to them. I was happy that our guys found a way when it was kind of a muck-it-up kind of game."

There was no one particular player who carried the load on offense; instead, it was a join effort to keep the home team ahead in the second, third and fourth quarters. Senior Riley Cantu led the way with 11 points, followed by fellow senior Emilio Sanchez with 10 and junior Brett Boen with 10 as well. Luke Beyer had nine points and Ethan Kleinschmit had eight.

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Kennedys Andrew Cuff pulls up for a midrange floater against Trinity Lutheran.

The game was also officiated very tightly, with Kennedy making it to the free throw line 25 times and Trinity Lutheran going there 21 times. The Trojans converted on 17 of their attempts, and the Saints on 15.

Schmidtman reminded his team in the locker room of what to try and control.

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Kennedy senior Riley Cantu battles in the post against Trinity Lutheran.

"We talk all the time about controlling the things you have control over," Schmidtman said. "Just focus on that. I think our guys, that's one of their strengths, they don't let the outside influences affect how they play. I tell them, let me be the one who worries about all that other stuff. You guys just keep playing through it. Kudos to our guys, I thought they really did."

The team travels to Toledo to play in the Toledo Holiday Tournament on Tuesday, Dec. 28, where they will first face off against North Douglas (3-3). Schmidtman said that due to a large portion of his varsity roster making the jump immediately from the football season into basketball competition, he would give them the week off from practice in between the Trinity Lutheran game and the matchup with North Douglas.

When the team gets back to the grind, though, Schmidtman wants to fine tune a few more things before the league season begins in earnest.

"We hope that as we finish up most of our nonconference schedule that we can execute a little bit better on offense," Schmidtman said. "We have our identity and know how we want to attack teams, we have a clue on that but we're still working out some of the details on that. Defensively, some nights it's been man pressure that's gotten it done, sometimes it's been more of a zone, sometimes a combination of both. It's just finding out what works best with what lineups."

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