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By Brandy L. Simms @bls1969
SILVER SPRING — The Wheaton Knights girls varsity basketball team held a one-point advantage in their rivalry game with the hosting Kennedy Cavaliers on Friday night.
The game was a tightly-contested matchup that went down to the wire before Kennedy emerged victorious thanks to some last-second heroics.
“The Battle of Randolph Road always delivers,” said one spectator following the game and this year’s contest between the Cavaliers and Knights did not disappoint.
Sydney Evans scored from short range on an inbounds pass with 3.2 seconds remaining to lift Kennedy to a 39-38 home victory over Wheaton.
“The kids fought hard,” said Wheaton head coach Russell Davis. “Kennedy played hard. We gave the girl (Evans) a good look. We just got to get better a little bit defensively.”
Kennedy (1-3) picked up their first win of the season and Wheaton, who fell to 0-5, suffered a heartbreaking loss to their neighborhood rival.
“It’s big,” said Kennedy head coach Carlos Smith. “To get the first win and Wheaton is our No. 1 rival so it’s even better to beat them.”
Kyla Wims, who finished with a team-high 11 points, was among six Kennedy players who reached the scoring column. Erika Quintana finished with nine points and Evans added eight points for the Cavaliers. Kaylynn Bromell, Frances Montano and Maria Mantey also scored for the Cavaliers.
Meanwhile, Wheaton was led by Semhar Haile and Natalie Ruiz who scored the majority of the team’s points.
Haile, a sophomore, finished with a team-high 23 points in a losing effort.
“She’s coming along,” said Davis. “She’s probably one of the girls on our team that really bears down and really dedicated to what she’s doing.”
Kennedy led 23-19 at halftime but the rivals battled back and forth during the third and fourth quarters. Haile canned a jump shot in the third quarter that cut the deficit to 25-24, but moments later, Wims countered with a three-pointer that gave the Cavaliers a four-point cushion.
A free throw by Ruiz, who finished with 10 points, cut the deficit to 28-25 entering the fourth quarter before Wheaton took a 37-34 lead on a pair of free throws and a short jumper by Haile.
Wheaton called a timeout to design a last-minute strategy against the Cavaliers.
“Do not foul,” Davis told the team in the huddle, the Knights ahead by three points with just under a minute remaining.
Ruiz knocked down a foul shot with 36 seconds remaining to put the Knights ahead, 38-34.
However, Kennedy clawed back behind the efforts of Quintana and Bromwell to cut the deficit to 38-37 with only 13.4 seconds left in the contest.
Kennedy survived one of the county’s most-heated rivalries but according to Wheaton’s head coach, the schedule doesn’t get any easier for his squad.
“I don’t know who did the schedule but it’s really tough on the kids,” said Davis. “We use to get three games in a week later on in the season but for some reason we got all that stuff now.”