By Phil Anastasia
Justin Ortiz is a role player.
He says everybody on the Washington Township is a role player.
"We all understand," Ortiz said after sparking Washington Township to a 56-42 victory over Kingsway on Saturday in the Jimmy V Foundation showcase at Cherokee High School.
With tip-off just about 15 hours after a hard-fought victory over Cherry Hill West on Friday night, Washington Township burst to a 20-3 lead after one quarter and cruised to victory in the first of six games in the main gym during the day-long, 12-game event.
Ortiz scored 12 and fellow senior guard Spencer Cook added 21 for Washington Township (2-0), the No. 4 team in The Inquirer preseason Top 25.
"Justin has really stepped up," Washington Township coach Matt Kiser said. "He's always been a leader for us, a guy who will do what we ask."
Senior guard Timar Brown scored 17 and senior forward Noah Burrell added 16 for Kingsway (1-1), which also was playing just hours after a victory on Friday night.
"I was really proud of the way we battled back," Kingsway coach Drew Owens said. "This is not a game I'm unhappy about. That (Washington Township) is a good team and they just didn't miss in the first quarter.
"Our kids hung in there and battled."
The 6-foot-2 Ortiz is one of nine Washington Township seniors, all of whom are competing for playing time. The Minutemen also have a couple of juniors in the regular rotation.
"Our practices are so competitive," Ortiz said. "We don't even play varsity against the J.V., like most teams do. We just go against each other."
Cook, who generated 23 points in the win over Washington Township, is the Minutemen's top scorer and go-to player at the offensive end.
But the rest of the roster is pretty inter-changable.
"When you get subbed for, you don't like to come out but you see who is coming in and you're like, 'OK, he's got me,'" Ortiz said.
Kiser said Ortiz brings a competitive fire to the court that inspires his teammates.
"He wants to attack, he wants to go at people," Kiser said. "Sometimes that gets him in trouble because he tries to do too much but that's not too much of a negative."
Ortiz said Cook, one of his closest friends, is the focus of the Minutemen attack at the offensive end.
"My role is to get what he doesn't," Ortiz said of Cook. "I'm perfectly OK with that. We all know our role. We all want to win a state championship."
Ortiz scored 19 on Friday night. He came back with another double-digit game on Saturday, with six in the second quarter, including a bucket with 0:02 on the clock off a nice feed from Cook to send the Minutemen into the locker room with a 36-18 lead.
"We've been playing together our wholes lives," Ortiz said of most of the seniors. "Our team chemistry is great."
Washington Twp. 20 16 12 8 -- 56
Kingsway 3 15 14 10 -- 42
WT: Justin Ortiz 12, Rich Racobaldo 3, Najee Wilson 4, Mekhi Greene 1, Spencer Cook 21, Na'Quan McPherson 8, Rasheen Merlin 2, Nick McGough 5.
K: Matt Blaszczyk 6, Shayne Rechner 1, Rob Scanlan 2, Noah Burrell 16, Timar Brown 17.
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