The No. 1 Kendrick girls basketball team can catch its breath today after running to a 71-48 second-round Class AA playoff victory over visiting Lovett on Tuesday night.
The Cherokees were 15-for-16 shooting from the free-throw line, limited themselves to four turnovers and had three players score in double figures. It impressed coach Sterling Hicks so much, he said he might give his team a reprieve from suicide drills at today’s practice.
“They did the things we preach all the time,” Hicks said. “It’s good to see the light finally came on tonight. I’m very proud of them on that aspect, and I’m proud of how self-motivated they were.”
Kendrick (29-0) advanced to play Tuesday’s No. 7 Greater Atlanta Christian vs. Calhoun winner Friday at the NorthWest Georgia Trade Center in Dalton, Ga. Lovett finished the season 18-10 overall.
The Cherokees jumped out to an early lead with a four-minute 20-2 run that included back-to-back 3-pointers by Deshanti Lewis and led 40-18 at halftime behind 18 of Jazmine Thomas’ game-high 20 points.
“We just had to come out with aggressiveness and intensity,” Thomas said. “We played defense and played hard.”
Lovett made a push to get back in the game in the third quarter but never climbed any closer than 13 points at 46-33 and 49-36.
Lovett used five points from 6-foot-2 center Christen Johnson and six from 6-foot-1 forward Sydney Umeri during the third period, and Kendrick had a difficult time getting rebounds against them. Johnson finished with 23 rebounds and 17 points, and Umeri added 11 rebounds and 12 points.
“They’re a good team, and they have those bigs,” Hicks said, referring to Johnson and Umeri. “When they’re scoring, there’s nothing you can do about it. Basketball is a game of runs. We just had to fight through it and persevere.”
Kendrick kept Lovett from scoring back-to-back field goals in the fourth quarter to maintain its lead and earn a slot in the Class AA quarterfinals.
“We’re moving on; they’re going home,” Thomas said. “We’ve just got to continue to work and get better every day.”
Tuesday at Kendrick
Lovett 9 9 18 12 -- 48
Kendrick 24 16 15 16 -- 71
Christen Johnson 17, Tatianna Jackson 16, Sydney Umeri 12, Western 2, Goodman 1
Jazmine Thomas 20, Deshanti Lewis 19, Janai Merritt 17, Quineka Moffett 6, Johnson 3, Cheatham 2, Porter 2, Matthews 2
Team records: Lovett 18-10; Kendrick 29-0. Next: Kendrick vs. Calhoun-GAC winner, Friday at NorthWest Georgia Trade Center in Dalton, Ga.