Lady Eagles head coach Rae Jackson has had enough. And even though his squad battled to a 74-64 victory over Analy High Tuesday night to advance to the second round of the North Coast Section Division 3 Bracket, he wasn’t happy.
Soft third quarter play has been a deep thorn the coaching staff’s side all season, and for whatever reason the Lady Eagles can’t put teams away in the second half. Again the Tri-County Stone League champions let an 18-point lead dwindle to 6 with 94 seconds left in the game. Jackson calls it a “deep-rooted loser’s mentality.”
The game started out as expected with both teams trading blows with sharp bounce passes and high-percentage shots inside the paint. From start to finish Kennedy never trailed, but it wasn’t until the last minute of the first quarter, when the Lady Eagles turned up their full court press, that they were able to breathe.
With a nine-point lead to start the second quarter, Kennedy continued to pressure every Analy inbounds pass and dribble. As a result some fouls were called — and Analy head coach Earl Pasamonte felt the whistles were home cooked, and let his voice be heard and actions be seen. With 4:21 left in the second quarter and his team trailing 28-21, Pasamonte followed the two officials around the court like a shadow, and shouted in their ear his displeasure with the game. And within the span of a minute, the Analy head coach was charged with two technical fouls and was escorted out of the gym surrounded by Richmond police officers. Analy assistant head coach Jeff Ogston took over from there.
After halftime Ogston explained that the double technical and ultimate ejection was the result of a combination of things. “We had a time down the court where we could hear some [Kennedy] slaps and nothing was called,” he said. “Then we came down on our side and got called for a ticky-tack foul. Then the next time down the floor our girl gets hammered on the body. Yeah they got ball but they got a lot of body and there was no call.”
While Analy’s players coped with the ejection of their head coach, Lady Eagles’ players had a hard time paying attention to instruction in the locker room. Several times coach Jackson and assistant coach Dajuan Alexander had to raise their voice to tell them to pay attention.
“We must win the third quarter big because that’s what’s going to carry us through NCS,” assistant coach Doug Frazier said to his team about advancing in the tournament. “You can’t lax up in the third quarter.”
Assistant coach Dajuan Alexander echoed those sentiments. “The first half is over,” he emphasized. “We must go out there and make the third quarter ours. What’s the score?”
“Zero-to-zero!” the team shouted in unison.
But all-for-one Kennedy wasn’t. Analy came out of the third-quarter gate inspired and routinely drove to the bucket. They outscored Kennedy by eight points in the second half. The Lady Eagles, meanwhile, kept fouling away from the bucket and mismanaged the shot clock. Things got so bad for Kennedy in the second half that Jackson said he found evidence of a player drinking a can of Coke on the bench, a team no-no.
To make matters worse, sophomore guard Destanee Alexander left the game early in the fourth quarter with a possible concussion. She went straight to the hospital. If doctors confirm the injury, Jackson won’t play her the rest of the season, he said.
As the final buzzer sounded and players got ready to go home, Jackson told his lighthearted players practices are mandatory for everyone. “That game wasn’t cool,” he said. “If y’all think [that game was] cool, something is wrong with y’all. You’re one game from being in NorCal now, and it’s not going to get easier.”
Kennedy’s next game is Friday night at Kennedy High against Hercules. Tip off is at 7 p.m.