Thomas Jefferson tips John F. Kennedy at district opener
By Gerardo Bolong
AUBURN - Unsecured ball protection and unsteady shooting were the factors that negatively influenced the John F. Kennedy girls basketball team on Thurs., Feb. 7.
Jefferson broke away from a close game to separate itself from Kennedy to post a first round 50-39 West Central/Southwest 4A bi-district opening round victory against the Lancers.
Kennedy Catholic had just drawn close when TJ capitalized on missed Lancer shots from all over and took control of the boards almost completely.
When the fighting Lancers continually missed from beyond the arc as well as close range the Raiders really racked up the scoring.
The opening moments of the second half were a precursor of events that took even greater significance as the game progressed.
Senior KC guard Nina Hanney was fouled at 3-point range and proceeded to convert the trio of free throws as the Lancers trailed only 23-21at 73 seconds into the third quarter.
In rapid succession, the Raiders built up a 29-21 margin.
A Kennedy Catholic basket interrupted the Jefferson surge, but Jefferson hit the court running against the ice cold Lancers to lead 37-23 with one minute until the fourth quarter.
The double-digit lead ballooned to 15 points early in the fourth quarter.
Running a consistent half court offense proved problematic for KC by way of hurried shots.
Mikayla McAllister drained a long three-point basket to make the score 47-39 with just more than 23 seconds left as the Lady Lancers never quit.
”We couldn’t take care of the ball, couldn’t make shots,” said a Kennedy Catholic head coach Greg Caldwell. “The girls took awhile to settle in until the last quarter.”
In front of well attended and energized spectator sections, the teams fought closely until TJ led 11-10 heading into the second quarter.
KC kept it close before TJ turned on the jets to expand an 18-16 edge to 23-16 with just less than one minute to halftime. Avery Watkins dropped home two free throws to keep Kennedy within 23-18 at intermission, leading to Hanney’s three free throws that preceded the Lancer woes.
McAllister scored 14 Lancer points while Hanney added nine points.
Hailey Still was energetic for a game-high 22 points for TJ. Six-foot Hila’atu worked hard inside to score 13 points.
Due to snow and icy conditions cancelling the Sat., Feb. 9 games, Kennedy (12-10) and Jefferson (14-7) will play their next games at a time and place to be determined.