McKnight leads way at NEC

In the finale of the Northeast Christmas Classic at the Webster Bank Arena, the St. Joseph Cadets defeated the Cardinals of LaSalle Academy, 76-57, to improve to 6-0.

Quincy McKnight, who led St. Joseph with 25 points and eight rebounds, was named tournament MVP.

“We’re looking for defense this year,” McKnight said. “We’re just looking to fast break basically so that’s easy points for us. We may be smaller this year, but we’re more feisty so we’re getting after it on defense and turning teams over.”

Jake Pelletier added 18 points, including three 3-pointers and five steals, en route to his selection to the all-tournament team.

Erick Langston was also selected to the all-tournament team for his overall fine play.

“This just goes to show if you think about the team first, and you do the things that are gonna make the team win, good things will come your way,” Cadet coach Chris Watts said of Langston.

“That was just a testament to the team and him playing team ball.

“It’s not just Jake Pelletier and Quincy, it’s Jon Dzurenda and Raekwon Reid…It’s just full circle.”

Dzurenda scored 25 points, including an 8-for-11 performance from the foul line.

Judenick Florian scored eight points and Reid six.

St. Joseph got off to a fast start, taking off on a 10-3 run thanks to McKnight scoring their first 10 points from the field.

The Cadets finished the quarter outscoring LaSalle, 16-7, as they continued to turn their defense into offense and push the ball down the floor.

“It’s been St. Joe’s basketball for 50 years and we’re gonna continue to pressure the ball, maybe even more so this year,” Watts said.

“We don’t have to worry about our six-seven guys extending out on people. Now we can play five kids out there running wild.”

The second quarter was Pelletier’s, as he scored 11 points including two long-range baskets.

The Cadets went on a 13-2 run before the Cardinals came alive from the floor and answered with a 10-2 spurt. St. Joseph countered with a 7-2 run to finish the half with a 55-37 lead, thanks to a 3-pointer and a layup from Pellieter.

“What we want to do is pressure them to the point that they’re not comfortable,” Watts said. “I don’t want the other team to be comfortable at all. We were yelling at the kids that we need to play with our feet. We can limit teams going to the line if we play with our feet.”

McKnight had eight points, punctuated by a monstrous dunk, to help the Cadets string a 10-4 start to the third period. LaSalle responded with a 10-5 run to finish the third quarter trailing 55-37.

The Cardinals were led by Dwayne Pow with 14 points, while Emmanuel McNeil added 12 points.

In the fourth quarter, Cadet reserves Charles Fisher and Rich Kelly stepped up for the Cadets, as well as Dzurenda and Reid.

Fisher started the quarter with a layup before Reid hit a stop-and-pop jumper a few plays later.

Dzurenda added a layup before Kelly nailed a three and a long two to ice the victory.

St. Joseph defeated Monsignor Farrell (N.Y.) by a score of 72-56 on Thursday.

McKnight scored 23 points, Dzurenda 14 and McKnight had 10 rebounds.