After Khaleev Ginyard sank his eighth three-pointer of the game, from deep on the left wing with a defender's hand in his face, St. John the Baptist coach Jim Plate turned to a reporter seated to his left and whispered, "Isn't that little guy the best shooter you've ever seen?"
The comment, though obvious hyperbole, was telling because of Plate's history: He was an assistant coach at Niagara University during the Calvin Murphy era, and many regard Murphy as one of the all-time great shooters among so-called small players. Murphy, like Ginyard, is 5-9 and fearless. "Similar players," Plate said.
Ginyard has a long way to go to duplicate Murphy's college and pro career, but he'll be taking the long-distance route to whatever future success he earns. The St. John the Baptist senior scored 26 of his 30 points in the second half, nailing six of his eight treys after intermission, to spark the Cougars to a 73-68 victory at Chaminade Tuesday in a well-played CHSAA game.
St. John the Baptist, which also got 30 points from Ginyard's best friend and backcourt mate Joe Gibbons, improved to 14-2 overall, 5-0 in league. The Flyers, who got 18 points and five blocks from 6-10 center Kevin Hargrove and 15 from guard Tom Morgan, fell to 7-6, 1-4.
"Once I hit the first couple in the third quarter, I was feeling it," Ginyard said of his 13-point quarter that erased a 35-28 halftime deficit.
Gibbons wasn't surprised. "I told him at halftime , 'Hit one and you're fine.' When he did, I sensed a hot streak was coming," said Gibbons, who hit 8 of 8 free throws in the final 1:05 to hold off the Flyers. "It's what he does."
Gibbons scored 13 and Ginyard 11 in the fourth, which began with the teams tied at 47.
"We didn't give him much room," Chaminade coach Jim Quinn moaned. "We had a guy on him and he still made them. For some kids, you'd say, 'That's a bad shot - a three with a hand in his face?' But not for him."
Not for this product of his own backyard. "We have a court and my brother [Tavon, 12] and I shoot out there all the time," Ginyard said. "We use cones to weave in and out before shooting. When we make them, we move them back."
By now, his shooting range must extend to the neighbor's property. "I've got confidence," said Ginyard, who also has his coach's backing to keep firing. "Coach has confidence in me," Ginyard acknowledged. "Sometimes, when they're not going in, he'll call one more play for me to take a three to snap out of it. We call it a heat-check shot."
Plate said of Ginyard's knack for sinking threes in bunches: "He's not a streak shooter. He's just a great shooter."