Kennedy boys shrug off 0-3 start to claim victories over Elgin, Colton

After dropping their first three games of the 2013-14 basketball season, the Kennedy boys were able to find success on their home court over the PHIL HAWKINS - Kennedy freshman Brett Traeger has been a key contributor for the Trojans early this season. Traeger has led the team in scoring in three games and is averaging a team-high 12.5 points a game through the first two weeks of the season.

The Trojans hosted and won the John?F. Kennedy Basketball Classic on Friday and Saturday, winning back-to-back games over Elgin and Colton on Friday and Saturday.

In the opening game of the tournament, the Trojans (2-3) used a superior defensive effort against Elgin (1-4) to take an early 19-4 lead in the first quarter en route to a 62-47 win.

Senior Dalton Susee led the team with 15 points, five assists and four steals. Sophomore Jacob Lopez had four steals as well, as the Trojans forced 22 turnovers by the Huskies that converted into easy scoring opportunities early in the game.

Elgin was able to regain composure in the final three quarters of the game, but Kennedy kept the Huskies at arms-length to cruise to the team’s first victory in its last 15 games, dating back to the middle of the 2012-13 PHIL HAWKINS - Senior guard Dalton Susee scored a team-high 15 points in the Trojans' first win of the season over Elgin on Friday.

Mark Unrein was Kennedy’s second-leading scorer with 12 points, and Dylan?Arritola came off the bench to score six and grab a team-high five rebounds.

The win put the Trojans in the tournament’s title game Saturday night against the Colton Vikings (3-1), who were undefeated heading into the contest.

Colton got off to a hot start, leading 17-9 after the first quarter, but the Trojans rallied back over the final three quarters and forced overtime.

The Vikings weren’t shy of pulling the trigger from beyond the arc, but the team connected on just 5-of-23 attempts, allowing the Trojans to steadily climb back into the game.

Traeger hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final quarter to keep pace with the Vikings, and with five seconds left in regulation, hit 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game at 52-52 to force overtime.

In the extra period, Traeger and Lopez proved to be too much for the Vikings to handle, as the Trojans went on to score a 62-59 win.

“In overtime, Brett’s passing and Lopez’s finishing was the difference,” said Kennedy coach Karl Schmidtman. “The team did a nice job of controlling the tempo and protecting the basketball.”

Lopez led the team with a double-double, scoring 18 points while pulling down 15 rebounds. Traeger also scored 18, while Unrein played the role of distributor, leading the team with five assists.

The Trojans (2-3) were scheduled to host Central Linn (2-0) Tuesday night in both teams’ league opener. Kennedy finishes the week Friday at East Linn Christian.

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