West High’s boys basketball wasn’t about to be intimidated by a higher-ranked Kennedy Cougars team on Friday, nor would the Wolf Pack be rattled by Cougars fans in a full gym at Kennedy High in Sacramento.
In the end the 53-47 win for Kennedy (21-8, 11-3 Metropolitan Conference) in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs came down to the final three minutes, when the No. 13-seed Wolf Pack defense denied the No. 5-seed Cougars any more field goals. West (20-9, 8-2 Tri-City Athletic League) also was unable to sink its shots and could not overcome Kennedy’s lead.
“They couldn’t have played any harder than that,” West coach Derek Sprecksel said of his team.
“(Kennedy) just scored 96 points (against Lincoln of Stockton) on Wednesday and we held them to 53 in the same gym. That tells you something about our passion and our intensity and effort,” Sprecksel said, referring to Kennedy’s 96-90 overtime win in the first round of playoffs.
West had a 15-10 lead in the first quarter on Friday, boosted by two 3-point shots from senior Anthony Ross and another from senior Kenneth Daye.
Ross said he had just one thing on his mind going into the game.
“I felt like we had to get the W,” he said. “I wanted to go to (semifinals).”
Kennedy came back with quick offensive moves and outrebounded West in the second quarter to take a 32-25 lead at the half.
West then outscored Kennedy in the third quarter, with senior Alvin Crenshaw hitting his jump shots to score nine of his 17 points in the third. Crenshaw also took control of the inside, and finished the night with 10 rebounds.
“We really had to fight for everything and claw and scratch our way to every point,” Crenshaw said. “It’s really just leaving everything on the court. That’s the only way to end the season.”
Daye, with 11 points for the night, twice passed the ball to Austin Torma for back-to-back layups to tie it up 38-38 near the end of the third.
Kennedy was still able to execute on offense, hitting two more shots, including a 3-pointer, at the end of the third and another 3-point shot to start the fourth to take an eight point lead. West closed in with a little more than three minutes left when Crenshaw scored the last field goal of the night to cut the Cougars’ lead to 50-47.
West’s defense held tough and gave the Pack offensive opportunities at the end, but West missed its shots and a couple foul calls went in favor of Kennedy, who scored three more in the final 18 seconds on free throws.
“Offensively we could have executed better but defensively there’s no way we could have played harder,” Sprecksel said. “The kids in the second half especially had that fire in their eye. We had our chances. We couldn’t just get over the top.”
Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.