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Jamestown Sharp In Return From Layoff

Jamestown’s Elijah Rojas takes the ball to the basket while being defended by McKinley’s Samuel Moss during Thursday’s nonleague boys basketball game at McElrath Gymnasium. P-J photo by Scott Kindberg

Because of illness, Jamestown hadn’t played a basketball game in two weeks entering Thursday night’s nonleague encounter with McKinley.

So much for rust.

Junior Elijah Rojas scored 12 points, dished out nine assists and spearheaded a dominant defensive effort to lead the Red Raiders to 93-57 victory over McKinley at McElrath Gymnasium.

The win improved Jamestown’s record to 7-5 heading into Saturday’s Erie County Interscholastic Conference Division 1 game at Clarence. But based on the way the Red Raiders have performed in the last two outings — they routed Williamsville North, 64-41, on Jan. 9 — they’ll be tough to beat in the final month of the regular season.

In addition to Rojas’ all-around effort, Demarri Jones and Simeon Leeper each scored 18 points, Trey Drake added 17, Jonathan Brito had 9 and Jaylen Butera chipped in 8.

Jamestown’s Demarri Jones scores two of his 18 points during the Red Raiders’ 93-57 nonleague win over McKinley on Thursday at McElrath Gymnasium. P-J photo by Scott Kindberg

It was just the kind of performance that Coach Ben Drake was looking for, especially following a stretch where most of the team had been sick, forcing the postponement of a couple games.

It sure didn’t show.

“I was really, really happy with how we played tonight,” Coach Drake said. “It kind of started at the defensive end. The last couple games we’ve been pressuring and playing more full court, and it’s made a huge difference for us. It gives us energy and it jump-starts our offense.”

Jamestown raced to a 19-5 lead midway through the first quarter, a period that ended with the hosts up, 27-18. In the second quarter, the Red Raiders outscored McKinley, 19-4, to extend their advantage to 46-22 at the break.

And just for good measure, Jamestown came out just as dominant in the third period, pouring in 32 points, highlighted by Jones’ play in the post. By the time the fourth quarter began, the Red Raiders lead had ballooned to 78-38.

The statistics confirm how well Jamestown played, as it shot 61% from the floor (39 of 64) and had 20 assists. Individually, Jones grabbed 12 rebounds and was 9 of 13 from the field; Trey Drake shot 6 of 9, including 4 of 7 from beyond the arc; Leeper made 8 of his 12 field goals; and Rojas was 5 of 8.

And it was Rojas’ ability to run the show and wreak havoc on the defensive end that left his coach feeling very good about the direction of the team moving forward.

“I love the way he played tonight,” Coach Drake said. “He was a menace on defense, and offensively he played exactly the way we need him to play. To have nine assists and only two turnovers says a ton.”

Now it’s on to Clarence on Saturday afternoon.

“From here on out it’s all league games, and obviously they’re all important,” Coach Drake said. “We just need to play with the same type of energy that we did tonight. No letdowns.”

NOTES: McKinley’s top scorer was Koran Askia with 13 points. … Jamestown’s game Saturday at Clarence features a 1 p.m. junior varsity game before the varsity contest at 2:30 p.m. … In last night’s jayvee game, the Red Raiders improved to 9-3 following a 61-39 victory. Greg Brumagin and Malachi Biles led the way for Jamestown with 15 points apiece.

MCKINLEY (57)

Reiang 3 0 7, Moss 4 0 8, Askia 4 4 13, McGee 2 1 6, Whitehead 0 0 0, Lewis 3 1 7, Austin 2 0 4, Snow 0 0 0, Green 0 0 0, Pool 2 0 4, Martin 1 3 5, Mootry 1 0 2, Borden 0 1 1. Totals 22 10 57.

JAMESTOWN (93)

Brito 3 0 9, Drake 6 1 17, Rojas 5 2 12, SLeeper 8 0 18, Jones 8 2 18, Butera 4 0 8, Swegles 0 0 0, Croftoot 2 1 5, Anderson 0 0 0, ALeeper 2 0 4, Navaro 1 0 2, Trout 0 0 0. Totals 39 6 93.

3-point goals–Reiang, Askia, McGee, Brito 3, Drake 4, SLeeper 2.

McKinley 18 4 16 19 — 57

Jamestown 27 19 32 15 — 93

Jayvees: Jamestown 61, Jamestown 39

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