By Joe Slye
The slow start continues for Kennedy Catholic Boys’ Basketball.
The good news is that the Kennedy Catholic Lancers have expanded their roster to include the players coming over from the football team. The required practice sessions have been completed, and Maclane Watkins, Thomas Bevilacqua, Dante Saladino, and Myles Jackson are getting minutes, adding depth and experience. Watson scored 19 points in 23 minutes in the Kentlake game and helped the team secure their first victory. The team is seeing improvement game by game as the young sophomore backcourt players gain varsity-level experience.
The bad news is that the Lancers still have a ways to go before all the pieces come together. Through the first seven games and with a 1-6 record, turnovers are the plague of the team. Kennedy Catholic is committing an average of 21 turnovers per game but only forcing 11 from the opponents. That ends up as an average of 13 shots and 14 points per game from turnovers as the opponent outscores the Lancers. Their shooting percentage is on par with most opponents, but with fewer shots, they allow opponents to stretch leads. The close games are slipping away; the more challenging games have become lopsided losses.
Recent game action included the following:
Kentlake Falcons: The Kennedy Catholic Lancers picked up their first win of the season at Kentlake on December 13, with balanced scoring from four players: 19 points from Maclane Watkins, 16 from Lorenzo Garcia, 12 from Brady Wong, and 10 from Kaden Truong. The Lancers had the lead at the end of each quarter and cruised to a 62-47 win. Another difference maker: Kennedy Catholic broke even with Kentlake on turnovers, 18 for each team. Good things happen when the Lancers control the ball.
Federal Way Eagles: One of the premier teams in the league and the state, Federal Way is ranked as one of the top five teams in the state. The Lancers played the Eagles on December 16 and ran with them for most of the first half. After that, the Eagles turned it up and cruised to a hefty 87-39 win. Making 37 turnovers to forcing just 8 was the undoing of the Lancers. Federal Way outscored the Lancers by 36 points on these turnovers. Coach Caldwell lamented, “When we get shots, we make them. We are not helping ourselves by being careless with the ball”.
Puyallup Vikings: One of the better games of the year for Kennedy Catholic, but some defensive breakdowns cost them the win. Isaiah Sonntag led the 60-50 Puyallup win, leading the Vikings with 31 points, making 11 of 24 two-point shots and 5 for 14 three-point shots. The Lancer defense needed to be in sync in executing their defensive game plan and paid the price, with Sonntag racking up over half the Puyallup points. Kennedy Catholic showed some progress in the December 17 game with only 15 turnovers and forcing 9 by the Vikings. Some early foul trouble forced a few lineup changes, but the Lancers shot the ball well and let a chance for a win slip away.
Vashon Pirates: Kennedy Catholic had chances to win this December 21 game that was undecided until the last few minutes. Vashon had to work hard for their victory. Kennedy Catholic was on early with a 12-7 lead at the end of the first quarter and extended their advantage to 25-19 at halftime. The Lancer lead disappeared as they scored only 8 points in the third quarter and allowed Vashon to tie the game 33-33 after three periods. Late in the fourth quarter, the Lancers gave up some rebounds off missed free-throws that cost them the game. Outscored by six points in the fourth quarter Vashon went on to win 52-46. With only 8 turnovers, Kennedy Catholic was competitive the entire game. The team hustles and the whole roster is now together, but there is still room for improvement. The SCRAP team motto (Sprint, Communicate, Rebound, Attack the Paint, Protect the Paint) is still a work in progress. Coach Caldwell said, “we played hard, but our execution of SCRAP right now is not where it needs to be.”
Next up for the Lancers is the Kennedy Christmas Shootout. The holiday tournament will be played at Kennedy Catholic High School from December 28-30, 2022. The tournament features 8 boys’ teams and 4 girls’ teams. The holiday break provides some time off and practice time; the first game of 2023 is on January 5. With such a young team that is fitting all the parts and pieces together, the practice time and holiday tournament games should be a good mix to help the team jell. Head coach Greg Caldwell commented, “They are committed to getting better, which is all I can ask for as a coach.” Expect the team to improve as all the pieces fall into place!