BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – Justin Jenkins mission hasn’t swayed since the start of his senior season. The Wings Academy guard wants to lock up a Division I scholarship and he’s taken his message on the road.
“I just wanted to come out and make a statement to show colleges I can play basketball,” Jenkins said. “I just came focused with a point to play well in front of a good crowd.”
Jenkins delivered that statement loud and clear Wednesday afternoon, helping lead Wings to an impressive 69-64 win over Dixie Heights (Ky.) in the opening round of the STOP-DWI Holiday Classic at Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.
Jenkins, who has yet to pick up a Division I offer despite interest from several mid-major schools, had a game-high 30 points on 10-of-22 shooting, grabbed five rebounds and added five steals.
“I thought he was phenomenal for the simple fact that not did we play him off the ball, but we played him on the ball,” Wings coach Billy Turnage said. “He facilitated the offense, got guys easy looks and he was able to break down for his own opportunities as well.”
It was Jenkins second straight 30-point performance for Wings (10-0), ranked No. 6 in New York City by MSG Varsity. While Jenkins is opening recruiters eyes, teammate Jaequan Brown, a transfer from Rice, isn’t surprised.
“I played with him at Gauchos and in middle school, it’s not shocking me, what he’s doing,” Brown said. “It’s time for him to step up and get a nice D-I school. I love playing with him.”
On Wednesday, it wasn’t just the multitude of points, it was the magnitude. With the score tied at 47 entering the fourth quarter, Jenkins hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key and then followed with a pull-up 12-foot jumper to give Wings a five-point cushion.
“Those are incredible shots,” Turnage said. “I call those senior shots.”
Jenkins wasn’t a one-man show, though. Steven Gomez, who was dominant inside in a league win against JFK earlier in the month, showcased his improved perimeter skills against Dixie Heights. The 6-foot-7 senior had 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting and grabbed five rebounds.
“His perimeter game is actually better than his back-to-the-basket game. He’s what I coin a facing four-man,” Turnage said. “He’s more adept at facing up, catching and shooting and beating you off the dribble. That’s more his strong point and I don’t even think he had his best ballgame today.”
Marvillio Berroa added 10 points, including 6-of-8 from the foul line, as Wings did a good job putting away Dixie Heights with clutch free throws down the stretch. Turnage said it’s huge to come out with a win in the opening round of an out-of-town tournament. That wasn’t the case four years ago in their last appearance in Binghamton.
“You don’t want to come out to a tournament and lose your first game,” he said. “That puts a sour taste in your mouth for the rest of the tournament.”
While Turnage struggled to get a scouting report on his team’s opponents from Kentucky, he’s very familiar with Christ the King, which defeated St. Rita (Ill.), 81-67, in another first round game Wednesday.
“That’s another test for my guys to see where they are,” Turnage said. “It’s PSAL vs. Catholic League, just upstate. I’m just happy we were able to pull this game out.”
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