The Jamestown Community College men's basketball team entered its first game of the second semester a bit shorthanded. The Jayhawks were missing four players who are yet to return to campus or are completing classwork to retain their academic eligibility.
But they had one addition to the roster that stood out in a 109-62 victory over the Butler County CC Pioneers on Saturday afternoon.
Omar St. John, a 6-foot-3 sophomore from Queens, was eligible for his first game for JCC and made quite an impression. He finished with game-high 30 points and eight rebounds.
Above, Kenny Stokes of Jamestown Community College fires a shot over a Butler County CC defender during NJCAA basketball action on Saturday afternoon. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Jim Riggs
''Offensively I was impressed that he took what was given and that was the three,'' JCC coach Mike Cordovano said. ''They just gave him the three and they were uncontested, but to his credit he knocked most of them in (4 of 9).''
The coach added, ''He's better than what we saw today. He's got to learn to play team defense. He's working on it, but he's got to take practice onto the court. That's going to be his biggest challenge.''
Not far behind St. John was Michael Forrest with 22 points and eight rebounds for JCC, which is now 9-6, while Kenny Stokes had 20 points and eight rebounds, and Tyreek Jewell finished with 18 points.
It was a great way to start the second semester with Region 3 Division II play beginning in five days.
''We wanted to get a game under our belt and it was good to play a team that's been struggling,'' Cordovano said about Butler County, a Division III team that remains winless at 0-9. ''They've been struggling and it was good for us to get a game like that. Everybody (of the nine JCC players dressed) got to play.''
But things change when the Jayhawks play host to Niagara County CC in their Region 3 Division II opener on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
''We do have a long way to go,'' Cordovano said. ''The second semester is all about team defense. That's going to be the emphasis this week in practice. We can score. We shoot the ball very well, we go to the basket real well, but we've got to play better team defense.''
The JCC offense came alive early on Saturday as the Jayhawks jumped out to a 29-5 lead after 10 minutes of play. Stokes had nine points in that stretch while Jewell had seven. Eventual game scoring leader St. John didn't even enter the contest until nine minutes had been played. Then he scored all seven of his first-half points in a span of about two minutes.
Late in the half, the Jayhawks popped in four 3-pointers by Stokes, Jewell, Forrest and Jobse Reyes and that led to a 57-19 halftime lead.
In the second half it was mainly a case of keeping everyone healthy and looking ahead to the next game. St. John led the way for the Jayhawks by scoring 23 of his 30 points, which included three more 3s and 6 of 7 from the free-throw line.
The leading scorer for Butler County was Jake Hillard with 15 points while Kevin Rummel and William Smith had 12 each.
Things will be a lot different on Thursday for the Jayhawks and Cordovano stressed that to his players.
''I don't know if our region is the best region in the country, but I know that our top four teams in the region can play with any four top teams in any region in the country,'' he said. ''And I think Niagara on Thursday is one of those teams. They're a top-four team in our region and they have been for the last couple of years. This is huge. In this league, you've got to defend the home court if you're going to be up there at the end. It's a huge game in early January.''
Rummel 4 2-2 12, Drake 1 3-4 6, Ayers 1 0-0 2, Schmidt 2 5-5 9, Hilliard 3 8-14 15, Barnhart 0 0-0 0, Roth 1 2-2 4, Smith 4 4-4 12, Totals 16 24-31 62.
Walker 1 0-0 2, Reyes 4 0-0 9, Newell 2 0-0 4, Jewell 7 2-4 18, Forrest 9 1-1 22, Bentham 1 0-0 2, Stokes 7 2-2 20, Williams 1 0-0 2, St. John 10 6-7 30, Totals 42 11-13 109.
Halftime-JCC Butler County. 3-point goals-Rummel 2, Drake, Hillard, Reyes, Jewell 2, Forrest 2, Stokes 4, St. John 4. Total fouls-Butler County 12, JCC 21.