McQuaid hands East first loss of the season

By JOHN LIKANJE

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – On October 12, 2018, McQuaid defeated East, 56-30, on the football field to win the Rochester City Athletic Conference (RCAC) division title. For the East Eagles, it was their first loss of the season. Three months later, the same result occurred on the basketball court as the McQuaid Jesuit Knights held on for a 68-65 victory at East High School.

“It feels great not to lose to East,” senior forward Connor Zamiara, who also played on the McQuaid football team, said. “I haven’t lost to them in my high school career.”

 

 

Trailing 54-53 with 6:08 remaining in the game, the Knights went on an 11-0 run to take a 64-54 edge with two minutes left. Zamiara made two baskets in traffic, including the go-ahead layup for a 55-54 lead the Knights did not relinquish. Kobe Long knocked down a three-pointer from the top of the key and Jermaine Taggart had a layup and a breakaway dunk off a steal to cap the run. During the spurt, the Knights forced six turnovers and two missed field goals in eight possessions.

“After we came out of the timeout, we locked in on just defense and taking the best shot and not just the come down and be caught up in the crowd and the parents,” Taggart said. “We just played our own game. We focused on that and we came out on top.”

 

 

 

Long and Taggart each hit a pair of free throws in the final 44.2 seconds to help the Knights hold on for the victory.

“Possessions late, I feel like we really guarded as a team,” McQuaid head coach Jack Leasure explained. “Which hasn’t been one of our strengths throughout the year but I think it’s turning into a strength.”

The Knights got off to a fast start with two runs in the first half. At the end of the second quarter, Long netted a three-pointer from the right corner and a pair of foul shots to spark an 11-3 spurt and extend the lead to 45-25, the largest of the game.

“It comes from defense,” Long said after the win. “Our defensive intensity was high, so it made our offense a lot better and we were able to flow.”

Taggart finished a layup and a floater. Zamiara had a layup of his own to cap the run. The Knights forced the Eagles into two missed field goals and a turnover in four possessions.

“Our goal was to come out and play great defense early in the game and run away with it,” Zamiara explained on the Knights’ fast start. “All five on the court can score and we know it’s all going to come from the defensive end.”

Long swished a three-pointer, finished a layup, and knocked down two attempts from the charity stripe during a 17-0 run in the first quarter as the Knights surged out to a 20-5 lead. Taggart made a pair of layups. Zamiara and senior guard Michael Maloney each finished a layup of their own while freshman Justus Ross-Simmons hit a floater in the lane. During the run, the Knights held the Eagles to nine missed field goals and four turnovers in 13 possessions.

Long scored 17 of his game-high 24 points in the first half on four shots from beyond the arc, a layup, and went 3-of-4 from the free throw line as the Knights led, 45-27, going into the locker room.

“My teammates were able to find me in open spots,” the junior guard said when explaining his effectiveness offensively. “It made it easy for me to make shots and my big man, Connor (Zamiara), was there to catch it in the middle and create wide open shots for me on the corner and in the wing.”

Taggart finished with 22 points on eight layups, a floater, a dunk, and 2-of-2 shooting from the foul line. The junior forward hauled in 13 rebounds.

Zamiara netted 10 of his 16 points in the first half, including eight in the second quarter on four layups. The senior forward finished with seven made layups and a mid-range jumpshot from the top of the key. Zamiara collected 14 rebounds as well.

“I just crashed the boards hard,” Zamiara explained after tallying a double-double. “They weren’t too great at boxing out and we were always sending three at the boards and getting two back and the ball just happened to come my way most of the time and I put it right back in.”

 

 

Overall, the trio of Long, Taggart, and Zamiara combined to amass 62 of the Knights’ 68 points, including 50 straight to end the game.

Maloney (2), Harry Bruu (2), and Ross-Simmons (2) rounded out the scoring for the Knights.

Trailing 49-29 two minutes into the third quarter, Eagles’ Zachariah Harris-Scott made two layups, a floater as part of a three-point play, and a pair of free throws during a 25-4 run to retake a 54-53 lead. Dyllon Scott knocked down a three-pointer, a mid-range jumper, and two attempts from the charity stripe. Maurice Coney finished two layups. Chaz Washington made a layup of his own and brothers Damani and Kaori Barley each swished a three-pointer. During the run, the Eagles held the Knights to 16 missed field goals and seven turnovers in 25 possessions.

“To let up a run like that, it’s our lapse of mental focus,” Zamiara said when commenting on the Eagles’ comeback. “We just kicked it in on defense and started boxing out and grabbing rebounds and we just ran away with it.”

 

 

Washington had a layup and two free throws as the Eagles attempted to mount a rally in the second quarter with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 34-22. Kaori Barley knocked down a three-pointer. The Eagles forced the Knights into three missed field goals and two turnovers in five possessions.

Scott netted 10 of his 15 points in the second half on two three-pointers, a mid-range jumpshot, and went 2-of-2 from the free throw line.

 

 

Harris-Scott scored 11 of his 13 in the second half on three layups, a trio of foul shots, and a floater. Washington chipped in eight of his 12 points through the first 16 minutes of game play on two layups, including one for a three-point play, and four free throws. Damani Barley contributed 11 points.

 

 

Kaori Barley (9), Coney (4), and Jordan Randolph (2) rounded out the scoring for the Eagles.

 

 

McQuaid will play its second straight away game Monday at Bishop Kearney. Game set to tip off at 7:30 PM.

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