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PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – Many expected a down-to-the-wire contest between Kennedy Catholic and Peekskill on Tuesday night. Both teams are considered contenders to win the Section 1 title in Class A.
Instead, Kennedy dominated Peekskill from the opening tip until the final buzzer.
Senior center Thiago Randazzo and sophomore point guard Mike DeMello combined for 42 points as the Gaels cruised to a 77-59 win over Peekskill. It was the first of two league games between the teams.
DeMello started the game with a 3-pointer, followed by a three from senior guard Mike Ennis. Ennis then made two free throws to give the Gaels an 8-0 lead. They never looked back.
Kennedy led 20-8 after one quarter and was up 41-20 at halftime. Peekskill struggled handling the Gaels’ full-court pressure, while Kennedy easily broke Peekskill’s press.
“We’ve been coming out strong every game so far,” said DeMello, who scored 15 of his 19 points in the first half and forced numerous turnovers. “We’re playing great, but we just have to work on playing better in the second half. We’ve come a long way from the beginning of the season.”
DeMello, who is in his first season as the starting point guard, crisply ran Kennedy’s offense and displayed a smooth stroke from the perimeter. He made two 3-pointers in the first half.
“He’s doing very well and he makes good decisions,” said Kennedy coach Frank Kelly, whose squad improved to 5-3. “He’s getting better every game.”
“I’ve been working hard on my shot,” said DeMello, who considers himself more of a pass first point guard.
Randazzo took over in the third quarter, scoring 12 of his game-high 23 points. The 6-foot-5 center overpowered Peekskill in the paint and dominated the glass. The big man’s big quarter helped the Gaels build a 61-32 lead heading into the final stanza.
“I knew I didn’t do my best in the first half,” said Randazzo, who transferred from Brazil. “I played hard, but I missed some easy layups. I got kind of mad at myself. Even though we were winning by a lot, I wasn’t satisfied. I need to play hard all the time.”
Randazzo also displayed some touch from the perimeter by knocking down two 3-pointers.
“Me and [Mike DeMello] have been practicing shooting a lot – after practice and before practice,” Randazzo said. “That’s why the results are coming. I know [the outside shot] is my weakness, so that’s why I’m shooting more.”
Peekskill, which fell to 6-2, never seemed to get in a flow offensively. The Red Devils showed some fight in the fourth quarter, but it was too late to overcome the large deficit.
“They totally outplayed us,” Peekskill coach Lou Panzanaro said. “We never got into any kind of offensive set or any rhythm. We missed layups. They controlled the boards on both sides, we weren’t getting second shots. We weren’t forcing turnovers and they were forcing turnovers on us. They did what we wanted to do. They were the aggressor all the way through. They dominated the boards, made good decisions and shot the ball really well.”
Senior Kyree Hull paced the Red Devils with 14 points. Chandler Pierce (nine points) and Robert Lyles (eight) also contributed.
For Kennedy, senior guard Billy Kelly added 12 points. Senior Jordan Hardy and Ennis both chipped in seven points.
After graduating many key players that helped them reach the Section 1 Class A semifinals last season, the young Gaels have quickly reloaded.
“This team has no varsity experience,” Kelly said. “The only one that has varsity experience is Hardy. I knew they could play basketball. The mistakes we made at the end of the game – that comes from no experience. We’ve got to get better at that.”
Kennedy’s three losses have come against top notch competition in New Rochelle, Jamestown and South Side.
“Every practice and every game we’re growing,” Randazzo said. “We still have a lot to fix, but we’re doing all right.”