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KEVIN SULLIVAN , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Kennedy's Jalani Horn celebrates during the final seconds of the Irish's 41-40 victory over Western in their Empire League boys basketball game at Western High on Tuesday.

Kennedy has breakthrough with win over Western

STAFF WRITER

It had not happened for a long time.

Kennedy’s players knew precisely how long.

“We were 0-22 in league over the past two years,” Kennedy’s Jeff Lavespere said. “So we really wanted it.”

Kennedy got it. The Fighting Irish beat Western, 41-40, Tuesday at Western High in the Empire League opener for both.

They went 0-10 in Empire League games last season and 0-10 in league the year before that. Kennedy lost the final two league games of the 2012-13 season to start the tedious, difficult streak.

Kennedy is 11-6 overall. The Fighting Irish finished 6-20 last year.

Kennedy trailed Western (12-5) by 11 points in the third quarter. Kennedy trimmed that deficit to seven points, 33-26, going into the fourth quarter.

Derek Deese, a 6-foot-5 Kennedy senior, scored six points in the first quarter but was shut out in the second and third quarters because of active defense from Western’s Sunny Garcia.

Deese put in a layup to finish a fast break created by one of Western’s 22 turnovers to tie it, 35-35, with 2:48 to go.

Marcus Proctor swished a 17-foot jumper near the top of the key to put Kennedy on top, 37-35, for the first time since the early second quarter. Following a Garcia free throw, Kennedy’s Jordan DeCarlo made a fallaway baseline jumper to push the Irish lead to 39-36 with 39 seconds left.

After Garcia’s fifth foul, an offensive foul near basket, Lavespere inbounded the ball with a long pass to a sprinting DeCarlo who made a layup for a 41-36 lead with 19 seconds to go. Western needed five points but got four -- Keith Washington made two free throws with eight seconds left and Jabre Martin made a layup as time expired to create the final score, 41-40.

Deese finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. DeCarlo and Proctor scored 10 apiece.

Garcia led Western with 16 points. Andres Perez scored 11 points, including three 3-pointers, for the Pioneers.

Kennedy, which won the Estancia Coast Classic tournament two weeks ago, and Western are top contenders for the league championship in what appears to be a fairly balanced league.

“Western is a team we needed to beat to get us going again,” Kennedy coach Jose Alvarez said.

Also in the Empire League:

Cypress 53, Tustin 41: Brad Belshe scored 32 points for the host Centurions (11-8 overall, 1-0 league). Belshe is averaging 23 points a game.

Valencia 60, Pacifica 53: Eric Yang’s 19 points paced the host Tigers (6-11, 1-0).

In the Pacific Coast League:

Beckman 55, Corona del Mar 50: Josh Keogh and Michael Yee scored 13 points apiece, and Justin Reinhardt contributed 11 points for the visiting Patriots (14-4, 2-0). Taeveon Le paced the Sea Kings (13-5, 1-1) with 18 points.

Northwood 86, University 71: Jake Linsky scored 31 points and Jacob Huynh added 20 points for the host Timberwolves (14-5, 2-0). Kiron Dey scored 22 for University.

In nonleague games:

No. 5 Villa Park 59, El Dorado 49: Evan Battey’s 21 points led the visiting Spartans (13-4). Ryan Perry scored 22 for El Dorado.

Esperanza 76, Brea Olinda 43: Kezie Okpala scored 24 points for the visiting Aztecs (12-6).

Contact the writer: sfryer@ocregister.com


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