PATERSON, NJ - Kennedy High’s girls started off their state tournament basketball game against Hackensack with an 11-0 run and never looked back. Erika Brown, a sophomore guard, got things going for the Knights off with a steal and a quick lay-up for the game’s first points, and really did not slow down from there.
Brown ended up contributing a solid 15 points by the game’s end. Hackensack just seemed out of sync for almost the entirety of the game, consistently missing shots and losing the rebound battle. One of the team’s only bright spots was an 8-0 run at the end of the first half, but this still left them in a 27-15 hole heading into halftime.
At halftime, Kennedy head coach Marquette Burgess told PatersonPress.com that the logic was very simple heading into this game. “The objective here is to win. If you lose, you’re going home and looking ahead to next year.” When asked how he planned on winning, Burgess again preferred not to go into specifics: “Score more points than they do.”
Well, his players did not have any problem following that mentality once the third quarter began. Kennedy started off the third quarter by outscoring Hackensack, 15-3, including three consecutive three-point shots. That set the tone for the Lady Knights, as the looks of frustration became impossible for the Comets to hide as they faced a lopsided 40-19 score in the middle of the third period.
Although the JFK defense took its foot off the gas to an extent in the game’s final quarter, it did not matter as the hot offense continued putting up points with an already comfortable lead in tact.
With a final score of 53-31, the Knights advanced to the next round of the state tournament against fifth-seeded Randolph on March 2.
After the game, Kennedy’s co-leading scorer Erika Brown (Tiara Marshall also had 15 points), summed up the key to victory with just three words: “Enthusiasm, defense, and rebounding.”
Rebounding was huge for the Knights in this one, with Kylla Champagne and Alisa Brown combining for over 20 rebounds in the contest. Brown said she hoped the team would “take momentum from this win to make a championship run.”
If the Kennedy girls play the way they did in the first round, they will certainly be tough to beat.