The coaches agreed it was a good test before tournament play begins.
HERMITAGE, Pa. -- Someone forgot to tell John F. Kennedy and Hickory that their girls basketball game Thursday night was nothing more than a non-conference matchup between two good teams from neighboring states.
"They [JFK] always throw a lot of things at us and some of the things they showed us tonight we were hoping to see from them to prepare us for the playoffs," said Hickory coach Jeanette Whitehead after the Hornets'59-36 victory.
"And tonight was a night that I wanted my seniors to shine because it was their final game on this floor so we wanted to give them the opportunity to show what they are capable of doing."
Kennedy coach Denise Smith also felt it was a good opportunity to play a team like Hickory to prepare them for the post-season.
"Unfortunately for us, we play our first tournament Saturday so this was a little closer to that than I wanted it to be," said Smith.
Hickory takes early lead
With Hickory leading by 13 with 3:20 remaining before halftime, Hornets' senior point guard Chere' Marshall picked up her third foul and spent the rest of the second period on the bench.
During that time, JFK (11-9), paced by five points from Alyssa Chaves and two each from Michell Chaves and Aarika Knepp, scored the final nine points of the quarter to cut its deficit to four.
"Alyssa was a big part of the spark that got us going, but I think it was our coming together as a team that made the difference," said Smith. "Michell Chaves had a couple of key steals and Katie Piacquadio also hit some big 3-pointers for us to get back into the game."
The Hornets took control of the game during the second half. Beginning the third period with a 10-5 spurt, the Hornets increased their lead to 11 at the end of three periods.
Putting the game away
Hickory then scored the first nine points of the fourth period.
"Once we came back out in the third quarter, we made some adjustments," pointed out Whitehead. "One of the things I said to the kids was that if we could just connect for four quarters, we could be somewhat dangerous. I am just hoping that these few games down the stretch will get us ready to play that game where we connect on all four."
With Marshall in foul trouble, the Hornets came out in a zone to begin the second half which gave JFK some problems.
"In our league, we are faced with going against a lot of man defense and we do struggle against the zone a little bit," said Smith. "We missed a couple of shots and that kind of threw us into a mental lapse and we weren't getting our usual production from the people inside. We are use to taking inside to them and causing the zone to move a little more, but with [Deandra Evans] clogging up the middle, it made it rather difficult to get the ball inside."
Katie Piacquadio led Kennedy with 13 points, while Alyssa Chaves, who scored the first five of the game for JFK, finished with 12.
For Hickory, Deandra Evans scored 16 points, Ashley Williams had 11 and Natalie Dudzenski scored 10.