Kennedy boys sneak past Holy Cross

The Kennedy boys basketball team had the ball with 31.5 seconds left in Friday night’s NVL Brass Division game against Holy Cross at Tim McDonald Gymnasium.

The Eagles trailed by a point after Crusader freshman Elijah Parker sank two free throws. Kennedy senior Synciere Alves, who is proving to be one of the toughest finishers around the basket in the NVL, made his way inside and scored on a layup with 16 seconds left to put his team ahead by a point. Holy Cross had the ball under the basket with 6.2 seconds left. The ball was inbounded to Joe Dane, who was pressured but finally got the ball to Parker. Parker had an open 3-pointer from the top of the key, but it missed at the buzzer.

Final score: Kennedy 57, Holy Cross 56.

This game was just a little different than the first meeting between the teams, an 89-68 win by the Eagles last Saturday at the Jack Taglia Gymnasium. No one was going to win Friday night’s game going away. In a back-and-forth, sometimes ugly, many times tense encounter, Kennedy did just enough to escape The Pit with a one-point win. Crusader supporters may argue that the game turned at the 2:51 mark, when a skirmish following a tie-up resulted in a technical foul on Parker. I was taking video for the Republican-American, and it looked from many angle (full disclosure: opposite end of the court), that Parker was shoved before he issued his own shove. Parker was given the technical foul, and Eagle junior Lennox Serrano drained two free throws. That made the score 52-50, Crusaders.

Forty-four seconds later, the game was tied at 52 following a drive and layup by Kennedy senior Dayven Zielinski. Holy Cross’ Nate Muniz got behind the pressure defense and threw dunk a one-handed jam that electrified the Crusader crowd. Zielinski had the response, a huge 3-pointer from the corner at the 1:33 mark to put the Eagles ahead, 55-54. Zielinski’s trey gave Kennedy its first lead since a 30-28 advantage near the end of the first half.

Parker was fouled with 31.5 seconds left and made both free throws, which set up the final possession for the Eagles. Alves scored the game’s first eight points and finished with a game-high 17 points. Serrano added 12 points while Zielinski chipped in 11 points. Kennedy improved to 6-1 on the season.

Holy Cross senior Ashton Sannasi led his team with 16 points. Parker added 13 points while Muniz tallied nine points. The Crusaders fell to 9-3, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier. Next up for Holy Cross is undefeated Naugatuck (10-0) on Tuesday at The Pit.

Photo caption: Kennedy’s Lennox Serrano (33) and Holy Cross’ Nate Muniz (1) go after a ball on the floor during Friday night’s game at Tim McDonald Gymnasium.

GALLERY: Here are my photos from Friday night’s game.