Big Batiz: Senior guard’s hot shooting in overtime powers Kenendy

Kennedy senior guard Justin Batiz was unstoppable with the game on the line.

The senior guard, who was in and out of the game because of foul trouble, scored 11 of the Kennedy boys’ basketball team’s 15 points in overtime to lead his club to a 76-65 victory against Bedford Academy on Dec. 2 at the Benjamin Cardozo Classic.

“One of the things I felt that I should do is lead my team,” Batiz said. “I was sitting out part of the first half in foul trouble and in the second half I wanted to come out with a big bang for my team.”

Batiz scored a game-high 26 points, 20 of which came in the second half and overtime. Bakary Camara also came up big in the second half as he scored 13 of his 16 points after the break. It was enough to earn the Knights the win.

Kennedy as outscored Bedford 23-15 in the quarter and held a (51-44) lead heading into the final quarter. In the fourth, Bedford found the shooting stroke it struggled with most of the afternoon. It went on a 9-0 run and held Kennedy scoreless for 3:45. Bedford outscored the Knights 17-10 in the quarter, but the Knights refused to let the game get away.

A dominant final minute by senior Camara helped send the game to overtime Camara had a three-point play, an assist, and a steal that allowed Kennedy to tie the score at 61-61 at the end of the regulation. Batiz took it from there.

“At times they didn’t play smart but they played hard,” legendary Kennedy coach Johnny Mathis said. “At the end we played our defense well and rebounded well. The most important thing was that we were able to run our offense and that’s what freed Justin up in overtime.”

Kennedy got off to a bit of a sluggish start on offensive in the first quarter, but in the last two minutes Kennedy found a rhythm and the press slowed down Bedford. The Knights ended the quarter on a 9-0 run to take a narrow 15-12 advantage.

The size of Kennedy was giving an under-sized Bedford squad fits on the glass, leading to second chance points. But the Panthers were able to use their speed and effectiveness in transition to find some offensive and went into the half with a narrow 29-28 lead.

Bedford senior Anthony Munson and sophomore Angelo Stuart both finished with 19 points apiece.

Coming out of the locker room, Kennedy got of to a fast start thanks to Batiz, who had to sit out most of the second quarter with foul trouble. The Knights went on a 9-2 run with Batiz scoring seven points during the spurt. Doing so again in overtime gave Kennedy a momentum-building win.

“This game will give us the extra push that we need moving forward.” Camara said. “It’s going to motivate us and we will carry the intensity from this game into our next game on Monday.”

Construction 67, Eagle 64: The Eagles used a 24-3 run to erase a 57-36 third quarter deficit, but couldn’t retake the lead against the two-time defending Queens borough champions. Eagle tied the score twice on buckets by Nelson Samuel in the final 2:00, but saw the Red Hawks make enough free throws down the strength to put the game away.

Negus Hazel led Eagles with 17 points, including five 3-pointers. Three of those trey came in the fourth quarter where the junior scored 11 of his points. Malcolm Martinez had 14 points and Nelson Samuels added seven. Marcus Saint Furcy scored 19 points for Construction, which had four players in double figures.

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