Even when Episcopal tried committing an additional defender to slow down Jehovah-Jireh’s John-Paul Ricks in the second half of Friday’s nondistrict basketball game, the Warriors point guard still foiled the Knights’ strategy.
Ricks shot over, drove around and dished off to open teammates in helping three-time reigning Division V state champion Jehovah-Jireh to a 60-38 wire-to-wire victory against Episcopal in a game played at Parkview Baptist.
“Ricks was really special,” Episcopal coach Chris Beckman said. “He controlled the ball and when we tried to get it out his hands, he made the right decision and didn’t turn the ball over.”
Ricks scored 18 of his game-high 25 points in the first half and when Episcopal made a concerted effort to stop the junior in the final 16 minutes, he managed to stay ahead of the Knights’ double-team efforts and found open teammates for baskets.
Kody West added 14, including a couple of key 3-pointers in the first quarter, and Brandon Harton added 11 for the Warriors (17-13).
“The biggest thing is to get them to be consistent,” Jehovah-Jireh coach Dirk Ricks said. “The last two or three weeks we’ve hit a stride to where we’ve been more consistent. We’ve found seven kids that are playing well together. It came along late, but I think we’re playing our best right now.”
It didn’t take Beckman long to pinpoint his team’s downfall. The Knights were led by Stewart Bonnecaze and Jack Savario's 13 points.
Episcopal (15-8) missed 10 of its first 11 shots , including several shots around the basket. During the Knights scoring drought, though, Jehovah-Jireh built a 23-2 lead on Harton’s hook shot, a stretch where the Warriors made their last five shots of the quarter.
Jehovah-Jireh led 34-14 on Ricks’ driving layup after a nifty behind-the-back assist from Ahmon Williams and the Warriors led 37-15 at halftime after shooting 65.2% and wound up 58.1% (25 of 43) for the game.
Ricks converted a three-point play, beating a double team effort in the process, to make it 46-28 with 1:27 left in the third quarter and the Warriors went on to lead by as many as 24 points (58-34) when Ricks fed West for a layup.
“We had a few defensive lapses but offensively we did well,” Coach Ricks said. “We did shoot the ball well. We made sure that we kept the ball moving, something that we haven’t done well at points this year.”