Hoops: La Salle 62, Father Judge 56


While trying to help La Salle High this season, Amar Stukes also has his future at La Salle University in the back of his mind.

"I want to get stronger, do a better job of finishing plays, and make three-point shots more consistently," he said. "Also, as my coaches stress, my assist-to-turnover ratio has to be good."

Friday night, while mostly being the floor general, Stukes produced a game-high 20 points and six assists while leading the visiting Explorers past Father Judge, 62-56, in the Catholic League opener for both squads.

In 30 minutes, the 6-foot-2, 170-pound senior shot 7 for 13 from the floor (1 for 2 from beyond the arc) and 5 for 6 from the line. He added six rebounds and a steal.

"Having a point guard like that makes you really look smart," La Salle coach Joe Dempsey said. "He generally makes the right play. I trust him with the ball."

His five turnovers versus the Crusaders were uncharacteristic. His assist-to-turnover ratio coming in was 7.1 to 2.2.

"Outside of this one, I've been pretty satisfied with how I've been doing when it comes to that," said Stukes, who lives in Mount Airy.

Stukes and company jumped out to an 11-0 lead and led by 18 (43-25) midway through the third quarter. Judge, with reserve Aaron Higgins hitting a pair of treys, closed the gap to six (51-45) in the fourth.

For the Explorers, small forward Alex Cuoci posted 10 of his 14 points in the first half. Fellow senior and Fairfield commit Steve Smith contributed 10 boards, seven points, two assists, and a block.

La Salle (7-3) won six of nine games in December, with the losses coming against Roselle Catholic (N.J.), Imhotep Charter, and State College.

"I think we did pretty well," Stukes said. "Playing against that kind of competition really helps you get prepared for the league."

Against Judge, Ryan Winslow chipped in six points, five boards, and three assists. Off the bench, Pat Cooney hit a pair of second-half treys.

Sean Hanna and Brandon McGuire each scored 11 points for the Crusaders (5-4). Malik Robinson, a 6-3 forward, sat out the final 15 minutes after being hit with a technical foul.

"He has to learn a lesson," Judge boss Sean Tait said. "I can't have that. That goes for the whole team. If you get a technical, you're done."

Stukes, a third-year starter, chose La Salle over Penn State, Drexel, Fairfield, and St. Bonaventure. He plans to major in business managment or psychology.

His AAU team over the summer was the Jersey Shore Warriors. Teammates included Smith and St. Joseph's Prep guard Steve Vastoria.

La Salle 19 12 18 13-62
Father Judge 13 9 20 14-56

LS: Amar Stukes 20, Malik Janifer 7, Steve Smith 7, Alex Cuoci 14, Ryan Winslow 6, Pat Cooney 6, Dave Krompotich 2.

FJ: Sean Hanna 11, James Bogans 5, Brandon McGuire 11, Jeff Seigafuse 9, Malik Robinson 9, Aaron Higgins 9, Will Brazukas 2.

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