Kendrick remains undefeated with first-round win
By JOSEPH MYERS
Special to the Ledger-Enquirer
The third-ranked Kendrick Lady Cherokees steamrolled their way into the second round of the GHSA Class AA state basketball tournament Tuesday night as they flattened Jefferson, 73-35, at Kendrick High.
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A year after getting eliminated in the first round by Buford, Kendrick never trailed and were never threatened by a Jefferson team that finished fourth in Region 8.
Despite a defensive performance that saw his team hold Jefferson (18-11) without a shot for the first 3:47 of the game and without a point for the first 6:57, Kendrick coach Sterling Hicks said his team's overall play left something to be desired.
"We didn't shoot the ball well or play smart a lot of the time tonight," said Hicks, whose team will host No. 7 Greater Atlanta Christian in the second round Friday at 6 p.m. GAC beat Dade 68-30 on Tuesday. "I hope it's something we can work on. Right now we're just wanting to win and move on."
Kendrick (28-0) scored the game's first 16 points before Tristan McGarity made a 3-pointer to get Jefferson with 1:03 to go in the first quarter. The Lady Cherokees led 19-5 after the opening quarter, with Kahlia Lawrence scoring nine points to lead the way.
The Lady Cherokees continued to use their pressing defense and running offense to expand their lead in the second quarter, outscoring the Lady Dragons 16-12 to lead 35-17 at the break.
"I want us to be able to play a lot of kids," said Hicks, who frequently subbed in five players at a time. "I'd hope that we can be a deep bas
ketball team. I tell my kids we want to have 10 starters and no set group to start the game. I don't want to lose a lot when we put in our second unit."
Lawrence had 10 points in the first half to lead the Lady Cherokees, with Brittany Thompson adding nine and Deja Cheatham seven. McGarity had 10 at the break to pace the Lady Dragons.
Kendrick cruised in the second half, slowly building its lead to 51-27 heading into the fourth quarter before outscoring Jefferson 22-8 in the final eight minutes to turn the game into a romp.
The Lady Cherokees' biggest lead was 40 points, coming at 71-31 on a putback by Jasmine Merritt with just under two minutes to go in the game.
"The plan for us is to have balanced scoring and we got some of that tonight," Hicks said.
"We want to have four double-digit scorers every night so if people try to stop (Lawrence), we still have enough scoring to win basketball games. We're going to have to have some people step up and be consistent with their effort if we want to go far."
Lawrence scored a game-high 25 points to lead Kendrick, followed by Cheatham (14) and Thompson (13). Sarah Wood had 17 points, 15 of which came in the second half, to lead Jefferson. McGarity also had 10 -- all in the first half -- for the Lady Dragons in the loss.
Tuesday at Kendrick
Jefferson 5 12 10 8--35
Kendrick 19 16 16 22--73
Sarah Wood 17, Wilson 4, Tristan McGarity 10, Boyd 2, Goza 2.
Kahlia Lawrence 25, Porter 7, Jones 6, Brittany Thompson 13, Jack 2, Deja Cheatham 14, Merritt 6.
Records: Jefferson 18-11, Kendrick 28-0; Next: Kendrick vs. Greater Atlanta Christian/Dade County (Class AA State Tournament Second Round), Friday 6 p.m.