By Paul Gotham
CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. — A suffocating defense gave the offense a chance to find its rhythm as the Monroe Community College Tribunes cruised to an easy win Thursday night.
Sophomores Jahvari Josiah (Brooklyn, NY) and Arnold Fripp, Jr. (Brooklyn, NY) paced five in double figures as Monroe opened the NJCAA Region III season with a road win over Finger Lakes Community College, 89-51.
Josiah led the way as the Tribunes grabbed a 13-point lead at half-time.
The sophomore connected on a catch-and-shoot three from the left corner for a 29-19 lead. On the next possession the 6-4 Josiah grabbed an air ball and finished at the rim. Two trips later, Josiah corralled a loose ball at half court and drove to the basket for a lay up attempt. Jonathan Velez-Rivera was there for the rebound and putback.
Fripp scored back-to-back baskets early in the second half as the Tribs stretched their lead. The 6-7 forward finished a rebound and putback before Josiah found him in transition on the next possession slipping through the gaps of the FLCC 3-2 zone.
“There’s always a little crease in the zone to dig in here and there,” Fripp explained. “I try to find the creases and luckily my teammates, like Jahvari, found me in the paint.
Josiah capped a six-point burst with an emphatic two-handed slam forcing FLCC to take a timeout to try and slow Monroe’s momentum.
“In the second half we finally got that flow going,” commented Monroe head coach, Jerry Burns. “Dribble penetrating and kicking, we knocked down a couple threes. Now, they had to close out, and we got dribble penetration. Once that occurred the lead went from 15 or 16 to 30.”
Ta-Quan Zimmerman (Waterbury, CT) and Greg Williams (Cincinnati, OH) stretched the lead from there. Williams hit a pull up jumper, and Zimmerman followed with a catch-and-shoot three. Williams matched his teammate when Kenny Johnson (Philadelphia, PA) found him in transition for an open look and another trifecta.
Johnson, one of three sophomores on the team, finished with a game-high four assists and three steals.
“Those three guys know what’s expected of them,” Burns said of his sophomores. “Kenny we bring in off the bench just for that burst of energy. ‘Var has that in the beginning, and Fripp just plays solid.
By that time Williams and Zimmerman combined for another back-to-back three ball barrage, the Tribs had doubled up the Lakers, 72-36.
Monroe’s defense created 15 turnovers on the night while allowing 18 field goals. FLCC turned the ball over nine times in the first half while hitting just nine shots from the field.
“We’re not real big, but the kids are quick, and they play hard,” Burns added. “That creates a lot of problems for people.”
“How we practice is how we play,” Josiah said. “We just had to play hard and come out here and deliver.”
Fripp finished with 12 off the bench.
Josiah led with 16.
Zimmerman and Reuben Berry (Bronx, N.Y.) added 10 points and six rebounds apiece.
Williams chipped in with 12.
Sean Carbonell (Rochester, NY) led FLCC with 11 points and six boards.
Monroe’s season continues Friday when CCAC-Allegheny comes to town. An 8 p.m. tipoff is scheduled at George Monagan Court.