Mustangs Put In Work This Spring To Take Big Step In Building Toward More Success In 2011-12
UNION, NJ–This past season, the Mustangs of J.F. Kennedy had a great deal of success. JFK had its first winning season since 2001-02. In addition, Kennedy reached the quarterfinals of the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament for the first time since winning it all in 1990.
The Mustangs and their head coach, Chris Banos are not settling for that though. After winning 10 games or more in three out of the past four seasons, J.F. Kennedy is looking to be just as successful, or better next year as well. The Woodbridge Township school is losing the likes of Daishon Robinson, A.J. Pichalski, Jordan Toczynski, and A.J. Williams from this past season’s roster to graduation, but still have some good players returning including Steve Alvarez, Josh Kamenas, Shabas Clarke, and Vik Pawar. Banos is also high on a couple of youngsters coming up from the freshman and sophomore levels.
While J.F. Kennedy was one of the two GMC teams not to make the playoffs at Kean, they did show some progress this spring. In week one, the Mustangs went toe to toe with Newark Central over the first 13:10 of the contest. Without Kamenas, JFK still managed to tie the Blue Devils at 20-20 before the 2011 Group II State Champion closed the game with a 42-20 surge for a 62-40 victory. After having a tough loss to another Newark school in Shabazz the following week, the Mustangs showed its true potential in a comeback win over South Plainfield on May 11th.
With the likes of Kamenas, Clarke, and Pawar crashing the boards, and Alvarez making clutch three pointers late, Kennedy was able to overcome a 32-16 second half deficit with a 31-9 surge over the last 16:05 for a 47-41 victory over the younger Tigers. The Mustangs followed that up the following week with a solid effort in an overtime loss to Scotch Plains. In a rematch of a first round game in the 2011 North Jersey Section 2 Group III state tournament, Kamenas came up with several big scores underneath to help JFK take a 49-42 lead with several minutes to go in regulation.
Scotch Plains would rally though with eight of the next nine points to force overtime tied at 50-50, and then outscored Kennedy by a margin of 7-5 in the extra session for the two point victory. The Mustangs had a good turnout of players this spring, and also have the likes of sophomore Zach Buchholz (playing baseball) returning. J.F. Kennedy has some size and athleticism coming back next season with Kamenas, Clarke, and Pawar on the front line. Kurt Lorentzen is also a nice role player. The only thing that it is lacking right now is some more perimeter scoring punch to supplement Alvarez. The upcoming freshmen and sophomores may help fill that void.
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