WHEATON – The Kennedy Cavaliers varsity girls basketball team had nothing to play for Saturday. They just didn’t know it.
The Cavs clinched a first round bye in the playoffs the night before with a victory against Clarksburg. The Quince Orchard Cougars were coming to town Saturday to play a game originally scheduled for the previous Tuesday.
Kennedy head coach Kevin Thompson didn’t tell his players they’d clinched the number one seed before they faced their 4A West rival Cougars.
“I didn’t want them to take a day off,” he said.
Thompson was right to worry. Quince Orchard’s tight defense wrapped up the win, 49-31.
Kennedy was without their leading scorer, senior guard Khadijah Pearson. Pearson tweaked her ankle in the Clarksburg game and Thompson didn’t let her play against Quince Orchard.
“She makes a big difference,” he said. “I need her to rest her ankle.”
The Cougars took full advantage of Pearson’s absence. Quince Orchard senior guard Taylor Wilson stole passes and bounced the ball to sophomore guard Jordan Odom for easy points.
Odom and junior forward Danni Lehner dominated defensively, forcing Kennedy to shoot from outside. The Cougar defense held the Cavaliers to just four points in the second and third quarter.
Kennedy junior guard Sasha Brandon was hassled consistently throughout the game. Brandon was denied when she tried to drive through the paint and wasn’t allowed to get a good look at her shots.
“They rotated well and closed off the lane,” said Thompson. “You have to give their defense credit.”
Kennedy couldn’t seem to find an open shot as the shot clock expired on several occasions.
Cougars head coach Chris Campbell said he was proud of how his team performed defensively.
“We have several different defenses that we use,” he said. “We definitely spend a lot of time in practice working on that.”
The game against Kennedy marked the end of Quince Orchard’s regular season. The Cougars finished with a 14-8 record, a far cry from the 3-20 season of two years ago.
Campbell said he expects his team to be seeded second or third for the playoffs.
“Once you get to the semi-finals, everybody’s good,” he said. “Any of those teams can beat anybody on any given night.”
The Cavaliers face Poolesville on Monday.