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GW HOLDS OFF JFK, KEEPS HOLD OF 2ND

Geckos solidifying second place in ISA league

By Nick Akimoto

In the oldest high school rivalry on the island, the George Washington Geckos managed to pull off a 58-50 win against the John F. Kennedy Islanders at the Phoenix Center on Monday night in the ISA Boys Basketball League.

Wendy’s Players of the Game: Kaden Apiag (left) had 16 points and Djay Osborn contributed 13 points for the GW Geckos

It was a defensive battle in the paint as JFK attempted to combat GW’s height advantage by smothering the interior with a suffocating 2-3 zone defense. On the other end, GW (5-2) would run man-on-man for most of the game, only to switch to a full court press in the fourth quarter. 

“During practice, we always work on our conditioning so we can press the whole game and play defense the whole game because without defense, we cannot win,” said GW point guard Kaden Apiag. 

Only five Geckos scored on offense, but Apiag led all scorers with 16 points. His teammates Djay Osborn and Kupert Louis contributed 13 and 14 apiece. Osborn got GW going early, using his long strides to euro step his way to buckets around the rim. Louis got most of his points by cleaning the glass on offense and getting the put backs to fall. 

GW was able to grab a 12-4 lead early in the first quarter, but JFK (3-4) adjusted their defense to smother the ball handler as soon as they entered the paint. Thanks to that adjustment, JFK was able to lock off GW’s lanes to the basket and managed to close the lead to 12-9. The Geckos found difficulty running their offense at the beginning of the second quarter, but Osborn was able to get their offense going by converting an and-one and scoring his signature euro step with a finger roll finish at the rim. 

“It was just lucky,” Osborn laughed about his contribution in the second quarter, but it was clear that his scoring, in spite of JFK’s tough defense, would get his teammates fired up. 

Despite GW forcing their way to the bucket, the Islanders would perform effective damage control by preventing the Geckos from kicking the ball out after driving into the paint. The Islanders’ began to settle into their game plan by spreading and leaving space to run their offense. These adjustments, in addition to two crucial threes from Justin Lizama, would help narrow the score to 24-23 and momentum heading into the half. 

Both teams would explode on offense in the third quarter as GW began to find their groove in the paint and JFK would begin to break down GW’s constant man defense with effective passing. The offensive display was capped off with a step-back three from JFK’s Kyle Watanabe to tie the game at 42-42.

After such a high offense third quarter, the fourth quarter returned to being a defensive battle. The Geckos would pull away after switching to a full-court press in the fourth quarter and two clutch putback layups by Louis. 

At roughly the halfway point in the season, this win was crucial for the Geckos as they displayed little fatigue despite running man the whole time. 

“This team was tough to beat, but we had to work together as a team and we pulled it off,” said Apiag on his team’s victory.

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