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College Sports

Men's basketball: JJC hits 22 of 48 from 3-point range; Ahern back from injury

JJC makes 22 of 48 from beyond the arc; Ahern back from injury

JOLIET – Joliet Junior College men’s basketball coach Joe Kuhn glanced at the stats and could only say, “That’s sick.”

Sick, in a good way.

His Wolves hit 22 of 48 shots from 3-point range Wednesday night and whipped North Central Community College foe Milwaukee Area Tech,
100-71, at the JJC Events Center.

After Lincoln-Way Central graduate Mitch Kwasigroch started the fireworks, his teammates joined in the fun, as eight Wolves swished at least one 3-pointer.

All Kwasigroch did was score JJC’s first 15 points, as he hit three of his four threes in the first 3 minutes 8 seconds. He finished with 20 points, all in the first half.

“Mitch, that was crazy, scoring our first 15 points,” said JJC sophomore forward Max Ahern (Joliet West), who was playing his first game this season after being out with a broken left foot.

The hot-shooting Wolves (21-6, 8-3) went on an 11-0 run to lead, 32-11, with 9:10 to go in the opening half. But the Stormers (11-15, 3-8) responded with a 12-0 run of their own to get back within 32-23, and they opened the second half with a 10-0 run to climb back within 48-43.

However, JJC cranked up the defense and the 3-point shooting once again to pull away for good. The Wolves forced 26 turnovers.

“I definitely knew this team had something, and I wanted to stick around and come back,” Ahern said. “I was out with the broken foot after the Wright game last year. Then I broke it again in the second week of practices for this season.

“I just started playing better last year when I got hurt. The conditioning isn’t there quite yet, but I feel I have the same touch as before. These guys of ours have been playing really well. I don’t know if I can say they need me, but I feel like I can be thrown in and contribute to what they have here and there.”

What Ahern did Wednesday was score seven points, including the basket that put the 100 on the scoreboard. He also had a rebound, a steal and an assist in almost 15 minutes of playing time.

“Max was cleared Monday,” said Kuhn, who has 499 career victories between stints at Rich East and JJC, with No. 500 looming Saturday at home against Wright. “He practiced one day [Tuesday] and he looked fabulous. He’s a smart kid and will be a great addition to our team at this time of year.

“He was starting to play well for us last year when he got hurt.”

Jarret Gmazel (Lincoln-Way Central), who is shooting at a .434 clip from 3-point range for the season (96 of 221), hit 5 of 10 Wednesday and joined Kwasigroch with 20 points.

“Jarret has been unreal,” Ahern said.

Quincey Butler went 4 of 7 from long range and scored 18. Richie Elias (Plainfield North) was 4 of 7 and chipped in 11 points. Austin Reed and Jason Bingham Jr. (Joliet Central) both hit a pair of threes and scored eight. Elias also totaled nine assists, six rebounds and three steals.

“Richie [Elias] was tremendous,” Kuhn said. “He had a steal on one of their set plays that I really liked.

“Plays like that – defense – that’s why I think we’re winning.”

That, and knocking down threes.

“Most of them might have been wide open, but they came from [eight] different guys,” Kuhn noted.

One more night with that marksmanship, and Kuhn will have No. 500.

“It would be special to get it in this building,” he said. “Of course, I’ve had a lot of good players through the years.”

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