TABERNACLE – Not only is the Seneca High School boys’ basketball team sustaining its winning wins, the Golden Eagles are building on each victory.
After a defensive and deliberate 42-31 over Paul VI on Thursday night in an Olympic Conference inter-division game, Seneca has topped a pair of traditionally powerful programs in back-to-back games.
“We continue to improve,” said senior Mike Ginyard, a three-year starter. “We are trying to play with more intensity. We know we have the talent to do bigger things this year.”
Seneca (8-3) was coming off a confidence-inducing 52-45 win at defending Group 3 champion Winslow on Tuesday.
Interestingly, ninth-seeded Seneca was bounced from the South Jersey Group 3 playoffs last year in the opening round by eighth-seeded Winslow, 70-47.
After losing three times to Winslow last year, the most recent final score says the Golden Eagles have closed the gap with the defending champs. The win over Paul VI says Seneca is strong enough to string together wins against talented teams, which is needed for a playoff run.
Obviously, Seneca is playing for the highest seed possible and a home playoff game – or two.
Seneca senior guard Jack Brockett finished with a game-high 19 points, including draining all six of his free throws in the fourth quarter.
With the win, the Golden Eagles have won three straight since losing back-to-back games against Timber Creek, ranked No. 2 in the South Jersey Sports Digest Top Ten, and No. 7 Eastern last week. Seneca’s only other loss was to Medford Tech in the season opener.
“We had tough losses to Timber Creek and Eastern, but we learned from them,” said Ginyard, a 6-foot-5 forward who can step beyond the arc, too. “We know we have to play with more intensity, that’s most important.”
The Golden Eagles, who are 2-1 in the stacked Olympic Conference Patriot Division, which includes Timber Creek, Shawnee and Winslow, stays home for another interesting inter-league game against Sterling up next Monday.
Paul VI, which knocked off No. 7 Eastern two weeks ago, dropped to 3-5. The Eagles, who are 0-2 in the Olympic National with No. 1 Camden, No. 9 Camden Catholic and No. 10 Bishop Eustace on the slate home and away, play Middle Township on Sunday.
“They are a tough team,” Seneca coach Sean Kennevan said about Tony Devlin’s always smartly-coached squads.
Prior to last season, Kennevan was the Seneca girls’ basketball coach for nine years, leading the Golden Eagles to the Group III Championship in 2012 as well as winning the Olympic Conference Patriot Division in four out of his last six seasons. He has brought the winning ways over to the boys’ side.
“I’m excited for our guys,” Kennevan said. “We came with a lot of positive energy and we played tough.”
Kennevan, a former high school basketball and baseball player at Ohio power St. Xavier in Cincinnati, is just the second coach in the history of the Seneca boys’ program. He replaced Erich Wiltsee, who retired following the 2015-2016 season, which included the first postseason win ever for the Golden Eagles with a 71-52 victory.
Kennevan is quickly building the program.
“We got a couple of wins under our belt and it feels good,” Kennevan said. “We’ve struggled a lot over the years so winning feels good.”
Seneca trailed 21-19 early in the third quarter when Johnny Kennevan, the talented sophomore guard and son of the coach, stepped up and drilled a 3-pointer. The Golden Eagles, who trailed by many as six points in the first half, never trailed again.
Ginyard followed Kennevan’s spark with a layup and a 3-pointer for a sudden 27-21 lead with 3:20 left in the third quarter.
Seneca kept the margin at six until Brockett finished the game off at the line with six-straight free throws in the final 2:44.
Truthfully, though, it was the Golden Eagles’ effort on defense that provided the win as Paul VI managed just one field goal in the final 9:25 of the game.
“I’m very proud of our guys, they played with intensity,” Kennevan said. “They understand you have to play smart, too, and they did a good job of that.”
They understand now, how to win, too.
Paul VI 10 9 7 5 - 31
Seneca 7 10 12 13 - 42
PVI – Tariq Johnson 7, Tyshon Judge 3, Nicholas Villa 6, Hartnell Haye 6, Jordan Pierre 6, Wiskler Sannon 3.
S - Jack Brockett 19, Mike Ginyard 7, Johnny Kennevan 3, Malin Jasinski 7, Nygee Kinlaw 6.