Kennedy girls basketball sees growth in rebuilding season
MOUNT ANGEL, Ore.—Even in the midst of a loss, you can see that there's something beginning to develop into in the Kennedy girls basketball team.
The typically perennial league title contender finds itself in the midst of a rebuilding season and most recently found itself on the wrong side of a 68-26 drubbing at the hands of visiting Trinity Lutheran on Monday, Dec. 20. The Trojans had no answer for Trinity Lutheran senior Elli Kent, who erupted for 27 points in the team's non-league matchup.
Kent was able to overcome the different looks Kennedy threw her way, according to Kennedy girls basketball coach Michael Smith, but the defensive effort was there.
"With such a good player (in Kent) it's really easy to get into foul trouble, and they did a good job of playing hands off and playing tough," Smith said. "I thought other than (Kent), we did a really good job on everybody else."
While the team could not stop Trinity Lutheran's most potent player on offense, Smith looked for aggressiveness on defense and offense, and found it in senior point guard Aleks Eyles on offense, sophomore post Sailor Hill on the boards, and freshman Paityn Garcia from the midrange.
Those three exemplify the needs of a rebuilding team: leadership by example (Eyles), and effort and a willingness to work hard (Hill and Garcia). Smith knows that those ingredients are important, but that getting the younger players involved is equally important to the health of the program.
"I just want to see attitude and effort all the way up," Smith said. "We've got a lot of fundamental skills we've got to work on, the seniors are doing a really good job of leading by example, working really, really hard. But at some point it's going to be about getting these younger players some varsity experience because next year we won't have any upperclassmen at all, so we've got to get them varsity experience this year."
In the contest with Trinity Lutheran, Eyles led the Trojans in scoring 14 points, followed by Hill and Garcia with four points apiece. Senior Camila Najera and freshman Tia Allen each scored two points.
Kennedy (2-5) has three more contests before the year's end. The Trojans will compete in the Toledo Holiday Tournament against North Douglas (4-2) on Tuesday, Dec. 28 after the Pioneer goes to press.
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