With offensive plays called “Gator,” “Black,” “Indiana,” “Shallow” and “5-Out,” it’s easy to understand why the Kennedy High School Lady Eagles average 69 points per game. On Wednesday night the most exciting show in Richmond high school sports took their scoring artistry to another level and defeated John Swett High 84-28.
It took only three seconds for the Lady Eagles to score their first bucket of the game. On the opening play, guard Raven Caldwell took the jump ball from center Julian Robinson and raced down court for an easy layup. Caldwell and Robinson finished the night with 19 and 26 points respectively.
Just another day in the neighborhood for a Kennedy team who have pushed their win record to 14-4. With eight games left in the regular season, it’s hard to see that anyone in the Tri-County Stone League can stop them taking the league title.
Play after play, Kennedy outmaneuvered Swett defenders with hustle and crisp passes into the paint. On defense the Lady Eagles deflected balls, executed half court traps, grabbed long rebounds and threw the ball the length of the court for easy buckets.
Kennedy head coach Rae Jackson said it didn’t matter who they played right now because they were doing a great job closing the traps. “They’re in shape and our practices are up-tempo,” he said of his team. “It looks like we’re going to make it to post-season play. We just have to see how we can maintain focus.”
During the first half, Swett’s players had a hard time drawing iron; they managed to score only one basket in the second quarter. “We didn’t match up well and were never able to get into our game,” said Swett first-year head coach Ken Carthan after the game. “I give my hats off to Kennedy. They’re a very good team.”
But according to Kennedy assistant coach Dajuan Alexander, the Lady Eagles have their own Achilles heel: third-quarter play. “After halftime I think we’re a little bit bored, or we kind of know we have the game in the bag so we’re not coming out with that intensity,” Alexander said after his players left the locker room for the start of the second half. “And that’s what we want to be able to do—is come out zero-to-zero like the game just tipped off.”
Once again, on Wednesday, to the dismay of the Kennedy coaching staff, the Lady Eagles took their foot off the gas pedal and let Swett back into the game. Even though Swett only outscored Kennedy by two points in the third quarter, bringing the total score to 61-26, their performance was night and day compared to the attitude the Lady Eagles brought to the court. Instead of giving up, Swett players dove for balls, got out on fast breaks and converted six out of eight free throws.
Jackson called a quick time out midway through the third quarter and gave his players an unsmiling address. Taking the message to heart, forward Kayloni Bardell scored 11 of her 13 points in the fourth quarter, while the team outscored Swett 23-2.
“We lost the third quarter,” Kennedy head coach Rae Jackson told his players in a fatherly voice after the game. “You can’t come out stagnant. We cannot create bad habits. We still have to improve as a basketball team.”
“We shouldn’t have let them score all them points,” said Kennedy sophomore guard Lexius Meriwhether as she sat near her locker taking off her basketball shoes after the game, referring to the teams’ flat third-quarter performance. “But we kind of fell out. We need to slow the game down and come to an understanding.”
Kennedy’s next game is tonight against Richmond. Tip off is at Kennedy High at 5:30 p.m.