For every punch the Northside girls basketball team threw, Kendrick had a stronger counterpunch. At the end of a fast-paced, high-energy heavyweight bout, the Lady Cherokees were the ones left standing with a title.
Kendrick held on for a 62-51 victory over the Lady Patriots to capture the girls championship in the Shaw Christmas tournament.
The win preserved an undefeated record as both teams move into the bulk of their region schedules.
Kendrick coach Sterling Hicks said games like Tuesday’s are what will ultimately shape the kind of team it will have down the stretch.
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“We played that one like we play every game,” he said. “We want to play close games. We find out who we are, who plays well in games like this. It’s easy to play well when you’re up by 30 points.”
Kendrick never had a lead close to that many on Tuesday night. Its biggest was 12 points, when it led Northside 26-14 with just under four minutes remaining in the first half. The basket that gave the Lady Cherokees that lead was the last one they’d score for two minutes and one of only three they’d put in until midway through the third period.
During that eight-minute stretch, Northside gave Kendrick all it could handle, going on a 21-4 run and taking a brief five-point lead with four minutes, 30 seconds to go in the third.
Kendrick, however, is known for its high-pressure defense and ability to turn a game on a dime. Over the next four minutes, it scored 15 consecutive points to erase Northside’s advantage and take control by a 10-point margin. And when Northside came out in the final period with another run to cut Kendrick’s lead to two, the Lady Cherokees responded yet again and held Northside at bay for the rest of the game.
“We didn’t necessarily play well or smart tonight, but we played hard,” Hicks said. “A lot of time, that’ll be enough. We want to play smarter than we did tonight, but we played hard.”
“We put ourselves there,” senior Kahlia Lawrence added. “We didn’t execute early on, so we just had to get out of it. It shows our ability to fight adversity. We just have to make sure we don’t do that too often.”
Kendrick got 24 points from Lawrence, who played on the low post instead of on the wing on Tuesday night. Hicks said her ability to score anywhere is what makes Lawrence such a good player for the Lady Cherokees.
“She never played on the wing, but still scored 24,” he said. “She’s going to score no matter what.”
Lawrence, who was named tournament Most Valuable Player, was consistent, scoring six points in each quarter. Kendrick also got 20 points from Deja Cheatham.
Northside was led in the loss by Caitlyn and Taylor Jakes, who scored 14 and 12 points, respectively.
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Tuesday at Carver
Kendrick 17 11 17 17—62
Northside 8 17 12 14—51
Kahlia Lawrence 24, Deja Cheatham 20, Thompson 5, Baker 5, McKissic 3, Dyson 3, Jones 2.
Caitlyn Jakes 14, Taylor Jakes 12, Ja. Herndon 8, Davis 8, Gahagan 7, Je. Herndon 6.