Kennedy pushed, but gets past Tustin

Staff Writer

TUSTIN - Kennedy’s girls basketball team remained tied with Cypress for first place in the Empire League with a 40-38 victory over Tustin on Friday night at Tustin.

Kennedy (15-5, 4-0) overcame a five-point deficit at halftime and held off a late charge by Tustin in the final minute.

“Traditionally, we don’t play very well here at Tustin,” said Kennedy coach Roland Preciado. “Any time you can go on the road and get a victory it’s nice. They played really well, they’re well prepared and she (Tustin coach Claire Gocke) does a really good job.”

Kennedy outscored Tustin, 14-6, in the third quarter to take a 32-29 lead going into the final stanza.

“We pride ourselves on our defense,” Preciado said. “We talked about it at halftime that we had to turn it up a little on defense and hit some shots.”

The Fighting Irish eventually built their lead to six points with 2:14 remaining on a basket by Katelyn Bomar.

Tustin cut the lead to 40-38 on a basket by Caylee Hermanson with 1:12 left.

Both teams were unable to convert on their next trips down. Tustin got the ball back with 18 seconds remaining but turned the ball over on a charging call with 8 seconds left.

Kennedy was able to run out the clock after that.

Bomar led Kennedy with 16 points, 10 coming in the second half.

“She stepped up and she’s still learning, but she’s getting a lot better,” Preciado said. “This is only her second year playing.”

Camryn Hamaguchi added 11 points for Kennedy.

Tustin played much of the game without center Devyn Barner, who picked up her fourth foul about midway into the third quarter and came out.

The Tillers (12-9, 2-2) were led by Lilly Ballestero, who scored 13 points and hit two 3-pointers. Hermanson, a freshman, added eight points.

“We told them after the game we know we can beat them and we know we can compete with them,” said Gocke, the Tustin coach. “We get to play them in the second round which is the great thing about league.

“We’re not necessarily going to win games when Devyn is sitting on the bench for half the game with foul trouble but it’s something we have to take the positives and negatives being as aggressive as she is. I thought we executed our game plan very well defensively. We gave up 16 points to number 20 (Bomar), but she’s a good solid player. There wasn’t much more that we could do defensively against her.”

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