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Lady Eagles win first tournament game in more than 10 years

on February 13, 2013

Eleven-and-zero. That’s the Kennedy Lady Eagles home record this year. And if they win three more home games this week they’ll call themselves Tri-County League champs.

After the final buzzer sounded on Tuesday night, and the song “Another One Bites The Dust” boomed over the loud speaker, the number two-seeded Lady Eagles huddled together at midcourt with fans to celebrate their 73-68 tournament victory over six-seeded St. Patrick/St. Vincent Lady Bruins of Vallejo. According to Lady Eagles head coach Rae Jackson, it was the team’s first tournament win since 2001.

After the game Jackson said his staff coached with a chip on their shoulder because with an overall 22-4 record, they felt the Lady Eagles should’ve been the across-the-board favorite to win the trophy. Instead, the St. Mary’s Lady Panthers, a team with the exact same record, but situated across the socio-economic tracks in Albany, was given the one-seed honor.

“Nobody knows that Kennedy High has a good basketball program so they’re kind of underestimating us,” Jackson said describing the losing history of the school and Richmond’s reputation of being a rough place to grow up. “But tonight’s win means respect. Private school kids have a different interpretation of what we do down here: We’re organized and disciplined; we can execute; we can run plays and we can be pretty good.”

Good wasn’t how the Lady Eagles started the game. With 2:15 remaining in the first quarter, Kennedy trailed 18-12. And by halftime, Lady Eagles guard Raven Caldwell and forward Kaylanii Bardell had received technical fouls for showboating and physical play, respectively. Kennedy wouldn’t see their first significant lead of the game, nine points, until half way through the fourth quarter.

“We do start out slow sometimes,” said Lady Eagles guard Destanee Alexander after the game. “But we always come back and we always see what our mistakes are and adjust to it. In the first quarter we just let things slide.”

Caldwell led all scorers with 26 points. And junior center Julian Robinson followed that up with 16 points.

Letting the first quarter slide isn’t something Kennedy can let afford to happen against Salesian High Thursday night. Back in December, Salesian defeated Kennedy by 39 points. “Now it’s time for some payback,” Jackson told his players in the locker room after the game. “They have two legitimate post players and one legitimate guard. Having said that, I have eight players against their three. I like those odds.”

The Lady Eagles play Salesian Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Kennedy High.

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