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Cypress finds way past Kennedy
LA PALMA - The Empire League rivalry between Kennedy and Cypress high schools' boys basketball teams is historically intense.
So intense, in fact, that rather than referring to one another by name, the schools separated by just two miles refer to each other as "the school across the street."
The Cypress "side of the street" took the first victory Monday night at Kennedy High, 51-42, behind a game-high 23 points from Jalen Hall.
Cypress coach Jeff Russell said that the plan coming in to this game was to try and limit the touches of Kennedy forward Terrance Blum.
"I thought we did a good job for most of the night making it hard for (Terrance) Blum to catch the ball," he said.
Blum finished the game with 18 points, but scored only six in the first half.
The first half was typical of that of a rivalry game, with both teams looking to find their footing.
Cypress (13-4, 2-0) was the first to find some balance, as the Centurions outscored Kennedy 10-4 over the last 6:10 of the second period to take a 23-18 lead into halftime.
Russell said that he felt his team was stagnant offensively in the opening half, but said that the second half was a different story.
"We got a little hesitant and held the ball," he said. "When we were moving the ball we got great chances to score."
Russell also said that he thought his team didn't come out as intense in the first half as they needed to.
"We felt like overall we didn't have the same desire that we had in other games," he said. "We let them hang around, but the start of the second half our defense picked up and that allowed us to get some fast break points."
Cypress showed the intensity Russell was looking for as it opened the second half with a 9-0 run, extending its lead to 14.
The focus continued throughout the third quarter, as the Centurions held Kennedy (10-6, 2-1) to just five third quarter points to take a commanding 36-23 lead into the final quarter.
A 3-pointer from Jake Brito seconds into the fourth period gave Cypress its largest lead of the night, 16 points, as the Centurions cruised to the win.