Kenji's John F Kennedy Hornets played inspired ball as they went up against their rival in Karshae's Broad Street Jaguars and when the dust settled the Hornets were victorious with a 76-72 win in overtime.
The win was the Hornets first of the season, which improved them to 1-6 on the season and 1-1 in Region 3-1A. The Jaguars are now 4-4 overall with a 0-1 mark in the region.
"It feels great to win. He (Karshae) beat by 40 or 50 last year and it was nice to whoop his butt this time," Kenji said laughing.
For the Hornets and Kenji, the whole year has been about finding Hornet pride on the court and coming together as a team. On Tuesday, Kenji felt that they finally turned the corner and played with the focus and pride that he has been preaching about over the past two seasons.
"I basically told them to be patient and not force anything. We wanted to play Hornet basketball and over the past couple weeks we have been working on trying to establish pride and tonight they showed it and that's how we got this victory by not quitting and having that Hornet pride," said Kenji.
Karshae said the game was a thriller, but his team didn't do anything to match JFK's intensity.
"We were leading and got too relaxed with the lead. We got relaxed and they got their confidence up simple and plain. Defensively, we lacked a lot of hustle. We got lazy and my back man didn't rotate up and they got some good looks. My hats off to JFK and Kenji they played a good game," said Karshae.
For the Hornets, the story of the night was the play of his freshman Khalil Strickland and Kentrell Starks Jr. who played superb games and were of two of the main factors in the team's victory.
"I just told them to have confidence. I know they are freshman and it's their first full year playing high school, but it's all about believing in yourself and your shot. We worked on some things this week in practice and they executed. I'm really proud of them," said Kenji.
Broad Street led JFK 20-7 at the end of the first quarter. In the second, the Jaguars were up 33-17, but the Hornets went on a 8-0 run to end the quarter for a 33-25 halftime score.
The third quarter was a strong quarter for both teams, but the Hornets outscored Broad Street 22-17 in the quarter and with 54-seconds remaining Strickland knocked down a three point shot and off a turnover Octavius Taylor added a lay-up to close the BSH gap to 50-47 headed into the fourth quarter.
In the final period, business really picked up with the teams trading baskets down the stretch. With the game locked in a 63-63 tie, Broad Street's Michael Williams got into the lane and was fouled for a three-point play with 27-seconds left in the game. The free throw was good for a 66-63 BSH lead.
With 10-seconds left Strickland got free in the corner and nailed a three point shot to tie the game and send it into overtime.
In overtime the Hornets had a little more left in the tank as they got big shots from Starks, Taylor and Strickland.
Trailing 71-68, Starks hit a tough shot outside the lane for a 71-70 score. A free throw from Taylor tied the game at 71-71with 1:34 left and a steal and lay-up from Taylor on the inbounds from BSH gave the Hornets a 73-71 lead with 1:18 and they never looked back as they went on to win the game 76-72.
Strickland led JFK with 24 points, Taylor had 18 points, Starks scored 14 and Earl Hall, Jr. scored 11 points.
Williams led Broad Street with 26 points, B.J. Hall scored 23 points and Flo Robinson chipped in with 10 points.
JFK will play Ruleville at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Broad Street at the NCAC Tournament. Broad Street will play Aggie at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the NCAC.