Boys basketball: Johnsburg’s JT Schmitt was on fire in KRC victory over Harvard

Skyhawks junior guard buries eight 3-pointers, scores 24 points in 77-33 win

Johnsburg’s JT Schmitt takes an outside shot against Harvard in varsity boys basketball at Johnsburg Saturday.

JOHNSBURG – The right shooting hand of Johnsburg junior guard JT Schmitt was so scalding hot Saturday, even a fire extinguisher may have been unable to put out the blaze it created.

Schmitt scorched visiting Harvard by burying seven first-half 3-pointers, sinking his first five attempts, as the Skyhawks ran away for a commanding 77-33 Kishwaukee River Conference home win.

“This was definitely my best game shooting the ball in my varsity career, without question,” Schmitt said. “When you’re locked in like that, it’s a whole lot of fun.

“When the shots started falling, as soon as I touched the ball, my instinct was to just let it fly. I struggled shooting it in our previous game against Marengo, so to come back strong today was nice.”

Schmitt went 7 for 10 from downtown in the first half, and 8 for 14 total from 3, for a game-high 24 points.

It didn’t hurt that his teammates were dishing out assists left and right, either.

Johnsburg’s Kyle Patterson, left, moves the ball against Harvard’s Joseph Vazquez, center, and Jualian Acosta, right, in varsity boys basketball at Johnsburg Saturday.

Johnsburg tallied 23 helpers, led by Ben Person (five assists, two 3s), Asthon Stern (seven points, three assists) and Jarrel Albea (12 points, six assists, four steals).

“I’m surrounded by shooters, and everyone in our lineup can shoot the ball well,” Albea said. “So I love to attack the basket. Then, if I draw defenders or can’t get a good look, I know I have plenty of options on the perimeter.”

The Skyhawks (8-11, 5-0 KRC) remain in sole possession of first place in their conference. All other KRC teams have at least two losses.

“We can’t let that distract us,” Albea said. “We just have to keep playing hard and going next game on, next game on. Don’t worry about the last game, just work hard in practice and keep listening to what our coaches tell us.”

Johnsburg coach Mike Toussaint said he believes Schmitt’s barrage from beyond the arc Saturday at least tied the school record for 3s in a game.

“I’m almost certain he at least tied, if not broke, Zach Toussaint’s old record for 3s in a game,” Mike Touissaint said. “I’m gonna have to go look it up to make sure, but it at least tied it.”

Defensively, Johnsburg clogged Harvard’s passing lanes well, led by Kyle Patterson’s five steals. Jayce Schmitt, meanwhile, had nine points, five rebounds and three assists.

The Skyhawks also notched 20 bench points, while 16 different players got minutes.

The question remains, how good can the Skyhawks be down the stretch, and as a Class 2A team once the playoffs arrive?

Harvard’s DeAndre Keller, center, takes a shot as Johnsburg’s JT Schmitt, left, defends in varsity boys basketball at Johnsburg Saturday.

“We’re not at this point yet, and not getting ahead of ourselves,” Toussaint said. “But I love the young talent on our roster. Everyone can shoot, but more importantly, this is a real unselfish group that keeps getting better.

“I honestly think we can win a regional, then take our chances from there. But we have to prove ourselves and have to take care of business in our conference first. I’m hoping our difficult non-conference schedule helped prepare us.”

Although Harvard (2-18, 0-5) hasn’t had its best season, coach Brian Heidtke sees progress.

DeAndre Keller had a team-best 14-point, seven-rebound effort. Gio Esquivel (seven points) and Gilberto Castaneda (five points) contributed as well.

“Every time we go out there, I see things we’re improving upon,” Heidtke said. “We really pressured the ball and gave a lot of effort out there.

“But we’re a very young team. We have a lot of new players, and guys are still learning and growing. We just keep trying to make sure we get better every opportunity we get.”

In other words, controlling the things they can control.

“Limiting turnovers, hustling, boxing out,” Heidtke said. “Making wise decisions with the basketball. Even if we face better talent, we can always remain competitive if we prioritize fundamentals.

“But I’m happy our kids keep doing their best to get better. That’s what matters most.”