St John's Catholic Prep

St John’s Catholic Prep’s Michael Ayala, left, dribbles downcourt with Pallotti’s Nic Russ defending Wednesday night in the first quarter at St. John’s.

With its schedule reduced by almost two-thirds, the St. John’s Catholic Prep boys basketball team will have to find a way to cram in a lot of knowledge over a short period.

Heck, in just two days, the Vikings played one fifth of their schedule.

SJCP opened its season Tuesday with a loss to Concordia Prep, then dropped another to Pallotti on Wednesday, 71-46. Another home game is slated for Friday against Baltimore’s Archbishop Curley.

To top it all off, the Vikings’ 10-game schedule began after just one week of practice. It doesn’t leave much time to get into any kind of a rhythm, or develop some kind of consistency.

Still, Vikings coach Stu Wilson and his team are grateful to have a season at all, given current conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You bet it changes the way we have to coach,” Wilson said. “We’ve only been able to put in about a fraction of what we normally run on offense or defense.”

It’s all come down to a few basic plays. Try to get up and down the floor in a hurry, run a quick offense, get back and play good defense.

This can be challenging, especially with a young team like the Vikings.

“We’ve got six sophomores on the team,” Wilson said. “But the good thing about this group is they’ve done everything that’s been asked of them. I can’t fault the effort.”

The MIAA permitted league teams to play 10 games this season, with no postseason. The goal, Wilson said, is to give teams the chance to get as many players as much playing time as possible.

Wilson shuffled a lot of players in and out of Wednesday’s game. Eight St. John’s players scored.

Sophomore Jaden Codlin led SJCP with 10 points. He said the players are still getting to know each other, but they see improvement each day.

“We just have to go out there, play with a lot of energy, stay focused,” he said.

SJCP showed a lot of energy at the start of the game, opening up a 5-0 lead in the first three minutes, before the Panthers, who possess a lot of height and speed, went on a 6-0 run to overtake the Vikings with four minutes to go in the first quarter.

Pallotti never trailed in the game again.

St. John’s had packed the zone tight in the beginning, forcing Pallotti out on the perimeter, where its shooting wasn’t very good. As the quarter wore on, the Panthers began working their way to the inside.

Soon, Pallotti had control of the game.

“Pallotti is very athletic,” Wilson said. “We did a good job in the beginning, but I think we got a little away from that later on.”

The Panthers’ lead grew to 25.

SJCP was able to cut the Pallotti lead to 47-33 after three quarters, but that was as close as it got the rest of the way.

Warren Magenda led Pallotti with 18 points, including 14 in the first half. Myles Bright had 13.

Pallotti won the JV game 86-29.

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