With her team clinging to a three-point lead entering the fourth quarter, John F. Kennedy senior Chelsea Custudio knew the Lady Knights had to step up their game in the final eight minutes to avoid what would have been a disastrous Monday.
“I don’t think I want to know how difficult practice would have been tomorrow,” she said. “Just know that if we would have lost today, tomorrow we would have walked into the gym, stretched and we could have been running the whole entire practice.”
Instead, JFK picked up the defensive intensity and put away Kellenberg, winning 47-27 in the third annual Under Armour Classic at St. John the Baptist Sunday.
The victory ends a brutal stretch of three games in three days and comes on the heels of a 26-point home loss to Moore Catholic.
“We made a mess in our gym, it was an embarrassment,” Custudio said. “It was not good at all so we came with the intensity that we have to clean up the mess we made yesterday and we have to go home with a win.”
JFK (2-1) did just with a solid fourth quarter after yet another sluggish start.
“If we could start like that, we’d be great, but we’ve been starting out too slow,” Lady Knights coach O’Neil Glenn said.
The key to the turnaround was simple, according to senior guard Joya McFarland.
“Defense, aggressive defense,” she said. “And putting the other three quarters behind us.”
Leading 28-23 early in the fourth quarter, JFK went on a 15-2 run capped by a McFarland 3-pointer with 2:24 left to put the game away.
“You have to want to defend,” Glenn said. “There’s no Michael Jordans out there so you have to stay in front of people.”
Custudio scored a team-high 12 points and McFarland added 10 for the Lady Knights, who led 10-3 after one quarter and 20-11 at the half.
“It was very important,” McFarland said, referring to the win. “We weren’t playing like ourselves yesterday so we had to prove that we [belong] in the ‘AA’ division.”
While Glenn said he wished the Lady Knights would have played better at home Saturday and come out stronger against Kellenberg (2-2), which was led by Candace Belvedere’s 10 points, his team passed an early-season test.
“When I made the schedule, those three games in row I knew was going to be tough,” Glenn said. “I would like to go 3-0, but I will take 2-1.”
That doesn’t mean practice is going to be any easier, though, according to McFarland.
“[It’s going to be] the same as it’s going to be now,” McFarland said. “We’re going to run.”
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