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McKnight, St. Joseph roll in Christmas Classic

Updated 12:30 am, Friday, December 28, 2012


  • St. Joseph's #11 Quincy McKnight lays up the ball as Monsignor Farrell's #32 Kevin McEvoy defends, during Northeast Christmas Classic basketball tournament at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. on Thursday December 27, 2012. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post
    St. Joseph's #11 Quincy McKnight lays up the ball as Monsignor Farrell's #32 Kevin McEvoy defends, during Northeast Christmas Classic basketball tournament at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. on Thursday December 27, 2012. Photo: Christian Abraham


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BRIDGEPORT -- There are times when Quincy McKnight makes it look real easy on the basketball court, gliding almost effortlessly to the hoop for a quick two points.

So when St. Joseph coach Chris Watts saw his star junior hustling hard Thursday night in the pregame layup lines, it was an encouraging sign.

That pregame inkling turned out to be accurate as McKnight piled up 23 points before taking a seat barely a minute into the fourth quarter of St. Joseph's 72-56 victory over Staten Island's Monsignor Farrell in the Northeast Christmas Classic in front of 1,600 at Webster Bank Arena.

"There's times when Quincy, in the games we've played up until now, would take plays off," Watts said. "He almost played a complete game tonight. Where he wants to be in two years, he has to do that. He can't come in and spot and rest on the floor. I'm seeing him work through those things."

It was the second straight year McKnight posted a standout performance in the first night of the Christmas Classic. A year ago, he scored 27 points in a 74-63 win over another New York school, Archbishop Molloy.

"I just like playing here, I guess," said McKnight, who added 10 rebounds.

Junior Jonathan Dzurenda was the only other Cadets' player in double figures, scoring 13 points. He and McKnight were both complementary players the previous two seasons when St. Joseph won back-to-back Class LL titles. This year, with the main cogs of those championship teams graduated, Watts has placed a larger than usual burden on the pair -- including naming McKnight a captain.

"Johnny is one of the craftiest guys out there," Watts said. "He's smart. He thinks ahead. No matter how quick he is, he thinks two plays ahead. He and Quincy make us go."

Monsignor Farrell started quickly, hitting its first three shots from the field, but faded. Joseph Holt led the Lions with 10 points.

St. Joseph (5-0) took a 10-9 lead late in the first quarter on a basket by Erick Langston and never trailed again.

McKnight took over in the second, scoring 12 of his points, including a step-back 3-pointer at the start of the frame to set the tone for the rout.

"He's a good player," Lions coach Michael Dunn. "He hit some tough shots, maybe we gave him too many good looks, but give him credit, he hit them."

The Cadets pulled away when McKnight scored five points in 20 seconds of play, followed by a 3-pointer by Jake Pelletier, which made it 30-18 with less than a minute left in the half. St. Joseph's lead swelled to as many as 20 points in the second half.

The quick hands on defense of Pelletier (seven steals) and Raekwon Reid (eight points, five steals) forced the Lions into a slew of turnovers and easy baskets in transition on the other end for the Cadets.

"We're smaller (than last year), but we're much faster," McKnight said. "We're pushing the ball."

Trinity Catholic beat LaSalle Academy 59-55 in the opener. Trinity places Monsignor Farrell tonight at 6, while St. Joseph plays LaSalle in the Classic's nightcap at 8.

For Watts, a former St. Joseph player in his first year after taking over for the school's legendary coach Vito Montelli, it was strange being on the sideline and calling the shots during the tournament.

"Having played in this thing, in the first one in 1987 and now being in it in my first year as a (head) coach, is surreal," he said.

mcardillo@ctpost.com; @CTPostCardillo

Northeast Christmas Classic

at Webster Bank Arena, Bridgeport


Connor Nicholson 4 0-0 9 John Orsino 1 2-5 4 Thomas Vazzana 1 0-0 2 Joseph Holt 5 0-2 10 Kevin McEvoy 1 1-4 3 Damian Murphy 0 0-0 0 Brian O'Sullivan 1 1-1 3 Joseph Crowley 0 2-2 2 James Rauitolo 1 2-2 4 James Spahill 0 0-2 0 Glenn Sicari 1 0-0 2 Brian Finnegan 2 0-0 5 Bill McCaferty 1 1-2 3 Tim Bradley 2 4-4 9 Totals: 20 13-24 56

ST. JOSEPH (5-0)

Jake Pelletier 3 1-2 8 Denzel Moscova 1 0-0 2 Judeneick Florian 1 0-0 2 Kahlil Smith 1 0-2 2 Quincy McKnight 9 4-6 23 Raekwon Reid 4 0-0 8 Jonathan Dzurenda 6 1-1 13 Erick Langston 2 0-0 4 Steve Hashemi 0 2-2 2 Tyshon Williams 0 1-2 1 Rich Kelly 0 0-0 0 Mike Sulik 2 0-0 4 Charles Fisher 0 2-2 2 Totals: 29 11-17 72

MONSIGNOR FARRELL 9 14 14 19--56

ST. JOSEPH 15 17 21 19--72

3-pointers: M--Nicholson, Finnegan; SJ--Pelletier, McKnight


Emmanuel McNeil 5 3-3 13; Dwayne Pow 1 5-6 7; Raheem James 1 0-0 2; Sequan Dowe 0 0-0 0; Vuyi Beschta 5 0-0 10; Markus Ross 2 2-2 7; Chris Polanco 4 5-6 16. Totals: 18 15-17 55.


Sean Brown 1 0-0 2; Schadrac Casimir 8 2-2 20; Tremain Fraiser 8 3-3 19; Brandon Wheeler 7 3-4 18; Neno Merritt 0 0-0 0; Justice Page 0 0-0 0. Danny O'Leary 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24 8-9 59

LA SALLE 13 14 16 12--55

TRINITY 18 13 13 15--59

3-pointers: LA--Ross, Polanco; TC--Casimir 2, Wheeler.