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Deese sparks Kennedy's winning surge
GARDEN GROVE – Just days after Kennedy’s boys basketball team ended a 22-game losing streak in league play, the Fighting Irish earned their first back-to-back Empire League victories since 2011 by knocking off Pacifica, 53-45, on Friday night.
Kennedy (12-6, 2-0) trailed Pacifica (13-7, 0-2) by three at the half, but the visitors turned up the defensive intensity and turned several steals into fast-break baskets. The most emphatic of the breakaway baskets was a monster dunk over a Mariners defender by Derrick Deese that helped spark the Fighting Irish’s 23-point quarter.
“When he gets upset, that’s when he’s his best,” Kennedy coach Jose Alvarez said of Deese. “It makes everyone else follow. It’s contagious. He’s the one guy on our team we can’t replace.”
Deese was a beast on the offensive glass, turning several Kennedy misses into two points. The senior center finished with 22 points, 14 of which came in the third quarter.
Pacifica chipped away at Kennedy’s lead in the fourth quarter, cutting it to four with less than three minutes to go. However, Deese slammed home an errant shot, and Kennedy quickly extended its lead back to eight.
Kennedy guard Marcus Proctor added 12 points and forced several turnovers.
Luera was the only bench player to score for either team.
After back-to-back wins and a solid run in nonleague games, Kennedy has seen results that don’t show up in the standings.
“Now we are getting respect,” Deese said. “People want to show up to our games now.”