George Pena sensed the opportunity to use his speed to take over the game in the second quarter and didn’t waste it.
His Monsignor Scanlan team got Cardinal Spellman star Corey Grant in foul trouble leaving no one on the court that could truly keep up with the sophomore guard. Pena proceeded to zip is way up and down the four as he scored 18 of his game-high 24 points in the second quarter. The big stanza was more than enough to propel Scanlan to a 70-41 victory over host Spellman in CHSAA Class A boys’ basketball on Jan 15.
“If I’m feeling it I’m going, Pena said. “If not I’m passing it, looking for my teammates. “I was feeling it.”
The Crusaders (7-8, 4-5) out scored Spellman 28-10 in the second quarter. Their frontcourt led by sophomore Saquan Singleton (11 points) limited the Pilots (4-6, 5-11) to just one shot on each trip to the offensive end. It allowed Pena to get out in transition and in the half court Spellman struggled to stay in front of him. His steal and layup up at the half time buzzer gave Scanlan a 43-20 lead at the break. Pena can make his teammates job easy sometimes.
“That’s why I like playing with him,” Singleton said. “I can just get the rebound and kick it.”
The victory ends a two-game losing streak for Scanlan after wining four straight prior to that. It also avenges a 70-69 loss to Spellman at home on Dec. 7. The Crusaders let a late lead slip away that day.
Singleton didn’t play in the first meeting because of back spasms. While getting three quick fouls on Grant (10 points) helped, Scanlan coach Dwayne Mitchell was impressed with his team’s effort on defense and call it their best game this season.
“Defensively we were shaper,” he said. “We played with a different intensity than we did all years.”
The loss early in the season motivated the still maturing Scanlan club. Dajour Evans scored 10 points for the Crusaders and Jordan McAllister had eight. Jason Grant and Paget Bramble chipped in eight points a piece for Spellman.
Scanlan doesn’t want this win to just a blip in its season. The inexperience club, that does not have a senior in starting lineup, is still trying to finds tis chemistry. Before the year start is saw forward Jonathan Nwankwo (Victory Prep), forward Emmanuel Chuwko (Mount Vernon) and Jordan Riullano (Victory Prep) all transfer. The situation has only motivated the Crusaders, despite it taking some time for everyone to find their roles. A city championship is still the goal.
“Whoever is here is hear,” Singleton said. “We just got to take it all.”