Kennedy boys return to state quarterfinals
The Kennedy boys basketball team is continuing to build its resume as a tough out in the playoffs after traveling to Heppner on Friday and coming home with a 56-38 victory over the hosting Mustangs.
It was the second year in a row in which the Trojans (20-7, 13-3 Tri-River Conference) have advanced to the 2A state quarterfinals behind a big road victory in the first round.
Kennedy was led by a career night from junior guard Luke Hall, who led all scorers with 24 points, helping the Trojans run away with the game in the second half against the Mustangs (18-8, 11-1 Blue Mountain Conference).
"The game was tight until the third quarter and we opened up the half with a 16-0 run," Kennedy head coach Karl Schmidtman said. "Our defense was causing turnovers and tough shots that led to fast break points for us."
Neither team was able to pull away in the opening half, and the Trojans went into the locker room knotted up at 20-20. Coming out of the break, Kennedy flipped a switch and went on a huge run to take a 36-20 lead.
The Mustangs were able to get on the board with a lone 3-pointer in the closing minutes of the third quarter, but the Trojans continued to pull away, scoring 20 points in the fourth to pull out the 18-point victory.
Senior post Rocco Carley had 11 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, while junior Bruce Beyer came off the bench to score 10.
Hall and senior Carson Hall each had three steals in the victory, which put the Trojans in the quarterfinal tournament for the third time in the past four years.
They face a tough draw to open the tourney on Thursday, facing top-ranked defending state champion Columbia Christian Knights (26-2, 16-0 Northwest League), who knocked out the Union Bobcats (16-9, 8-4 Blue Mountain) 103-36 in their first round game.
The 2019 2A boys basketball quarterfinals will be held in Pendleton on Feb. 28-March 1. To follow the results, go to http://www.osaa.org/activities/bbx/brackets.