By the time the John F. Kennedy High School Islanders boys' basketball team started hitting their 3-pointers, it was too late. The damage was done.
With a 26-point performance from the Bulldogs’ Kevin Cabral during Thursday’s Interscholastic Sports Association league match-up, Okkodo High School defeated JFK, 69-64.
From his first shot, a 3-pointer from deep, Cabral knew it was his night. With 12 of his game-high 26 points in the first quarter, the Bulldogs’ shooting guard, in front of his home crowd, put on a shooting clinic.
“My first shot went in, and I just went into a rhythm,” Cabral said. “I stayed consistent and letting my team distribute the ball to me.”
With 19 points from Ralf Manalac, 18 from Jeremiah Kintoki, and 14 from Rodson Simina, JFK’s shooters were hot, but couldn’t come back from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit.
“They’re competitive, and they have good guards,” Cabral said. “They can shoot far, and we just had to close it off today."
In the final six minutes, with Cabral on the bench recovering from cramps, Kintoki and Simina found their range. With four treys split evenly, the pair of shooters chipped away at Okkodo’s lead. But, as the clock ticked away, they were forced to deploy the Hack-a-Shaq.
“I told the bench to keep the energy up, keep the whole team up, and never put our heads down,” said Cabral, who motivated his team while benched for four minutes.
Cabral, one of the league’s total-players, doing it on both ends of the floor, helped lead Okkodo’s defense. With Okkodo’s bigs Jon Michael Lorena, Tristan Valdez, and Jesse Martin dominating the paint and forcing the Islanders to settle for the outside shot, Cabral’s timely steals, and a blocked shot stopped a late Islanders’ run.
“Defense, I’ve been working on,” Cabral said. … “I think of defense more than anything.”
Making 8-of-14 free throws in the period, the Bulldogs did enough to keep time on their side and send JFK home with a loss.
“Free throws are everything,” said Okkodo’s Lenard Baul, who scored 5-of-7 points from the charity stripe, including 3-for-4 in the final minutes. “Free throws are very, very, very, very important to the game, especially if it’s very close. …
“We just have to make them.”