Steven Gomez said he heard all the pre-game talk coming from rival John F. Kennedy.
“Y’all not going to beat us no more, this [JFK] team is better than last year’s team,” he said was among the trash talk.
On the court Thursday night, though, no one spoke louder than Gomez, who was a dominant force inside in Wings’ 56-50 win against the Knights in The Bronx.
“To me this game is very important,” Gomez said. “This game felt like the Garden to me.”
The 6-foot-7 senior had 19 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. His biggest statement came two minutes into the second half when he threw down a ferocious two-handed dunk while getting fouled.
Gomez also received a technical foul for taunting following the three-point play, but it was a play that energized the Wings, which played a sloppy first half.
“I guess the tech was worth it,” Wings senor Justin Jenkins said. “After that, their confidence went down and they weren’t able to get back in the ballgame.”
A four-year varsity player, Gomez has shown more emotion early this season than in the past, according to Jenkins.
“He shows more intensity every game, he comes to play every game,” Jenkins said. “Last year, he was inconsistent, but this year he’s a senior and he’s taking that to heart.”
Wings coach Billy Turnage said he noticed an improved Gomez as soon as preseason started.
“He played big tonight,” he said. “He’s a four-year varsity player who has worked tremendously [hard] over the summer on getting stronger.”
Jenkins added 15 points, five assists and five rebounds. The highly touted senior guard sealed the win with a pair of free throws with 28.7 seconds left after JFK pulled within four points late.
“At the end of the game I wasn’t concerned,” Jenkins said. “I looked at the score, saw the time and I had confidence that if I needed to, I’d make a play. I hit the foul shots I needed to.”
Wings (4-0), ranked No. 10 in New York City by MSG Varsity, never trailed, but struggled to put the game away. On a Jenkins 12-foot jumper, Wings led by 15 with 2:10 left in the third quarter, but No. 14 JFK (2-1) started bombing away from 3-point range.
David Hardy led the Knights with 13 points, Jason Nunez scored all 12 of his points in the fourth quarter and Bashier Ahmed added 10 points as JFK made things interesting late before Wings finally closed it out.
“It was ugly, but a ‘W’ at this point in time against Kennedy, I’ll take it,” Turnage said. “I don’t think we helped ourselves at all with the amount of missed layups and turnovers we had.”
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