MERCER COUNTY Balanced offense leads Kennedy
The Golden Eagles downed Greenville by five points.
GREENVILLE -- The pre-game hype going into Thursday night's District 10 Class AA-A showdown between Kennedy Catholic and Greenville predicted a hotly-contested contest.
The game lived up to that hype and more.
Although unable to secure the win until the final minutes, the Golden Eagles (10-3, 7-1) hung tough to defeat Greenville, 48-43.
"We knew they would be tough because we played them two or three times in the summer," said Kennedy coach Pat Mastrian. "They are a veteran team with five seniors starting, and they are a team that you have a tough time pulling away from."
That the Golden Eagles held Greenville (8-5, 6-2) to 43 points didn't surprise Mastrian. However, watching his team being held to just 48 was somewhat another matter.
"I think the type of offense they ran sort of slowed us down. They put four girls in the post and that just kind of caused us some problems," he said.
"We have been playing real well by pressuring teams and trapping them, but we weren't able to do that today because they had so many people stacked inside.
"I thought their coaches did a nice job setting up an offense that slowed us down."
Kennedy relied on a number of different players to step up on the offensive end.
In the first period, Kendra Radkowski, with three straight baskets, gave Kennedy an 11-6 lead. After Greenville held a 19-18 lead with 3:11 remaining in the first half, Alexis George hit a pair of long-range 3s to give the Golden Eagles a 28-21 lead at the break.
Greenville trailed only 30-29 midway through the third period when Hallie Arena sparked Kennedy to 7-0 run.
Arena led Kennedy with 15 points, while George added 12.
For Greenville, Kristin Skelley scored 15 and Rachael Cascio had 11.
"If we are going to be successful, that [scoring balance] is what we need," said Mastrian.
"This year, we don't have that one person who we know we can go to all the time. In our last four or five games, they have all been showing balance and I think they are realizing when it is their time to score. That in itself is starting to make us a lot better team."
Kennedy has developed a reputation for being a strong second-half team, which Mastrian felt has been the difference in several wins.
"This team really likes to play defense, and when they come out of the locker room, their energy level is real high while the opponents are a little sluggish and that has allowed us to jump on them," he said. "I don't know why, but playing an afternoon game like this one, we just didn't seem to have our usual spark like we have had recently.
"But regardless of that, I was especially pleased with everything that happened today."
Leading 42-39 with slightly more than three minutes remaining, Kennedy displayed patience in stretching that margin to five at the final buzzer.
"In the three games we have lost, we have actually lost them in the fourth quarter," said Mastrian.
"I reminded the girls that they have a lot more ability than they showed in those games. We have been there before so we should know what we need to do at the end of the game.
"I told them that I wasn't sure that we played as good a game as we were capable of, but when the third and fourth quarters came around today, we knew what to do and that shows that we have learned from our losses."