BAYSIDE, N.Y.- A great quality about the Beacon M.S. 158 Back-to-School Tournament is that, while it preps high school teams for the upcoming season, the tourney pairs New York squads that would not normally meet during the regular season in their respective leagues and divisions.
Thursday night, one such contest was between St. John the Baptist High School (West Islip, N.Y.) and John Bowne High School (Flushing, N.Y.). Though the St. John the Baptist Cougars were without some of their starters and key pieces, the squad was still loaded enough to sedate the John Bowne Wildcats, 68-48.
By the 16-minute mark of the first half, St. John the Baptist was leading the competition 7-0. John Bowne was pressing the ball early in the competition, preventing the differential from growing at a more rapid rate. However, the Wildcats were unable to immediately convert on their extra offensive opportunities.
Later, John Bowne was able to cut its deficit to as low as four points, 11-7. Still, led by the great guard play of Cougars' Tavon Ginyard (2015), St. John the Baptist surged to a 13-point advantage, 24-11, by the 5:32 mark of the first stanza.
The continued, unmatched effort of Ginyard, as well as 2014 teammate Kyle Williams' aggressiveness in rebounding and putbacks, propelled St. John the Baptist to an 18-point lead, 34-16, by halftime.
The action continued in the second half, as St. John the Baptist earned as much as a 24-point advantage, 41-17, at the 17:27 mark. Though the next few minutes would see the Cougars maintaining around a 20-point margin -- the last time being at the 12:55 mark when the score was 48-26 -- it did not last for long without being challenged.
Not willing to let the game easily become an 'L,' John Bowne's Luis Hernandez (2014) and teammate Ethan Harris (2014) tried to energize their team with quick, toughness plays. Ultimately, Hernandez and Harris paced the squad on a 13-2 run. The duo also received some help from Khari Ojeda-Harvey (2015) during the stretch. The surge sharply cut the deficit to only 11 points, 50-39, around the nine-minute mark of the second.
Just as quickly as its hard-fought advantage was rapidly diminishing, St. John the Baptist hurried to recapture its sizable lead over the Wildcats. And, because of the defense that the Cougars inflicted, John Bowne struggled to get successive baskets down again to reduce St. John the Baptist's advantage.
With 1:48 left in the game, the Cougars were leading the Wildcats, 64-44.
St. John the Baptist's Ginyard finished with 17 points, while teammates Williams and Conor Cronin (2014) added 15 and 12 points, respectively. John Bowne's Harris scored 17 points, while teammate Hernandez posted 15 points of his own. Wildcats' Ojeda-Harvey recorded seven points in the loss.
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Queens High School of Teaching staged a comeback against Forest Hills, defeating the competition, 39-29. Q.H.S.T.'s Sonny Okorie (2015) and Brandon Anderson (2014) netted 10 and nine points, respectively. Teammate Supandeep Singh (2015), who helped change the tide of the game with his 3-pointers and long jumpers, added seven points.
As for Forest Hills, Andrew Dawes (2015) recorded eight points, while teammates Kaseem Gordon (2015) and C.J. Ajoku (2013) scored seven points apiece.
Cardozo (A) kept High School of Construction (Queens, N.Y.) at bay, 46-41. Cardozo's Andrew Whisem (2016) and Ray Salnave (2016) each finished with eight points, while teammates Travis Flagg (2013) and Elijah McNeely (2015) contributed seven points apiece. Cardozo (Bayside, N.Y.) had a lot of options on the floor, as well as very quick guards that knew how to move the ball around well.
Meanwhile, High School of Construction's Tavein Worrell (2013) finished with 15 points and his teammate Alexis Riuccu (2013) posted 13 points in the loss. Worrell and Riuccu's production were instrumental in preventing the losing margin from widening.