Girls basketball: Kennedy tested in 44-37 win over Lost River
Arguably the deepest 2A program in the state, the No. 1 Kennedy girls basketball got the opportunity to put that depth to the test last week when about of the flu took out starter Kalyssa Kleinschmit and forced four players to miss practice heading into a brutal match against No. 4 Lost River in the first round of the Salem Academy Tournament on Thursday.
Yet despite fielding a team that needed more Theraflu than Gatorade, the Trojans continued to show why they're the team to beat this year, withstanding a 28-point barrage from senior Rachel Parks en route to a 47-39 victory over the Raiders.
"Today was going to be a little rough," Kennedy co-head coach Kerry Hall said. "We knew today we were going to have to get through the weekend."
Although the two 2A powers last met in the season in a first round playoff game in 2014 where the Raiders eliminated the Trojans, the Kennedy coaching staff was intimately familiar with the electric scoring potential of Parks after seeing her multiple times during the summer season.
"She's a phenomenal player," Hall said. "There's a reason why she's going to George Fox."
The Trojans came prepared to stop Parks and did so through the first eight minutes, holding her to a lone field goal in the first quarter as Kennedy built an 11-2 lead early.
But as Parks began to heat up on offense, so did the Raiders, who tested Kennedy's depth up until the final buzzer.
After outplaying Lost River through the first three quarters, the Trojans held a 32-21 advantage heading into the final period. That's when the Raiders turned on the gas, going on an 8-3 run to cut Kennedy's lead to 35-29 early in the fourth.
Parks made it a three-point game after a three-point play off a layup with 5:01 left in the game made it 37-34, but that's as close as the Raiders would get.
Kennedy responded with a quick bucket on the other end of the court to bring the lead back to five, and the two teams traded scoreless possessions before Sophia Carley was fouled on a lay-in, hitting the ensuing free throw to put her team up 42-34.
The two teams split free throw opportunities down the stretch, but neither team was able to get an advantage. Kennedy missed seven of 11 free throw attempts in the final five minutes, but was able to limit Lost River's scoring opportunities to prevent the lost points from coming back to haunt them.
Kennedy senior Kaylee Brown finished the game with a team-high 14 points, the majority coming from four 3-pointers scored in the first half.
"She's really been stepping up," Hall said. " She's a senior and really wants this and we said she has to start putting in the hard work and it's showing. We're finally getting to see the player that she's capable of being."
Teammate Kaylin Cantu added 13 points, 11 of which she scored in the second half while being the primary defender against Parks. Hannah Arritola and Ellie Cantu each added six, while Carley chipped in five.
Kennedy (10-1, 1-0 Tri-River) was scheduled to play Vale (2-6) in the semifinals and wrap up the tournament on Saturday against a to-be-determined opponent.
The Trojans will play at East Linn Christian (4-6) on Tuesday, beginning the primary slate of Tri-River games after Kennedy opened its league schedule with a victory over St. Paul in December.