By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– With Sophia Carley on the bench for much of the first half versus Oregon Episcopal School with two early fouls, Kennedy had to pick up the slack in the post against the scrappy Aardvark squad in front of them.
They led 26-19 at the halftime break, but Ellie Cantu stepped up big in the post. She was physical with the ball as the sophomore scored 10 first half points against the OES defense.
“It’s a little bit difficult because I don’t normally play post, but I’ve been working on it in practice. I think I did ok but, I could do better really,” smiled and laugh Cantu about stepping into an unusual position for her.
At full strength in the second half, the Lady Trojans pushed their lead to double-digits and didn’t let the Aadvarks to get within eight of the lead behind that defensive presence that they preach game-in and game-out.
That close margin came in the final minutes of the third quarter, but Kennedy still can find ways to improve entering their big matchup with Blanchet Catholic Saturday at 3:30 for the White Bracket Championship Game.
“We just got to keep work as a team and just work on our transition. It starts with defense because if our defense is good then the rest of our game follows,” said Cantu, who finished with 14 points in the 46-29 win, “We just got to make sure we got help side, that’s really important and just helping each other out. Talking and communicating and we’ll be fine.”
Carley had 11 points, Hailey Arritola added another nine and Kalyssa Kleinschmidt had seven for Kennedy.
In the guy’s game, Kennedy bounced back from their 50-43 loss to Portland Adventist to roll 64-33 over a young Cascade Christian team.
The Trojans led 28-15 at halftime before outscoring the Challengers 36-18 in the second half as they take on the winner of Portland Christian-Gold Beach at 6pm at the Salem Academy Auxiliary Gym.
“I just felt like we had more energy. Yesterday we were kind of sluggish I would say,” laughed Nick Suing. “Everyone was tired physically and mentally. Today we just kind of came out, defense was a lot better and offense started flowing.”
The Trojan boys will play Portland Christian at 6pm in the Salem Academy Auxiliary Gym.