Smith shoots Kennedy past St. John Villa

Kennedy and forward Sarah Vann beat St. John Villa 50-36 at the Aviator Winter Classic Sunday. Photo by Damion Reid

Slowly Danissa Smith is rounding back into form after an injury plagued season. She gave her new team a glimpse of the impact she can make.

“I’m still getting to where I was,” she said

The senior transferred to John F. Kennedy from North Bergen (N.J.) for this season, after tearing her ACL during a Christmas tournament a year ago, missing the remainder of her junior campaign. Smith moved to the Bronx because she felt she would have a better chance to be seen by college coaches playing in New York City and the PSAL. Knights coach O’Neil Glenn said he always knew Smith could shoot, but she has played limited minutes adjustning to his intense, defensive coaching style.

Smith may have earned some more mintues after she scored 14 points and connected on four 3-pointers in Kennedy’s 50-36 win over St. John Villa at the Aviator Winter Classic in Brooklyn Sunday afternoon. She scored eight of the Knights’ 13 points, including two 3-pointers, during second-quarter run that gave her team a 29-15 halftime lead.

“I felt confident, so I just kept shooting,” Smith said.

Sarah Vann scored nine points and Leshauna Phinazee, who also did a superb job on he boards, had five for Kennedy (9-3). Katie Nikosey led Villa, which was rattled by the Knights’ pressure, with 11 points. Brittany Sullivan had nine for the Bears (2-7).

“We have the rebounders. We just need the shooters,” said Vann, who transferred from Alabama and was the first person Smith met at JFK.

Kennedy is a young team this season with just five seniors and, like Smith, has been searching for its identity in the early going. The Knights, who picked up an all-important win over Midwood earlier this week, have plenty of slashing guards in Jazzarae Campbell and Deaisia Acklin and physical forwards in Phinazee and Vann. Isis Alonso has been their only consistent outside threat. Add in Smith and they could cause headaches for opposing defenses.

“If she can shoot the way I think she can and we have Isis on the court, it opens up a lot for our inside players,” Glenn said, “and makes the defense have to recognize which kid is going to shoot the ball.”

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