PENDLETON — Two years ago when the Kennedy girls basketball team earned the 2A state title after a 52-32 win over Burns, a cast of six sophomores got the sweet taste of victory.
But after graduatin four seniors that year, these underclassmen needed to step into new roles.
Now, these leaders will have a chance to hoist the trophy one more time as the No. 1 seeded Trojans claimed a spot in the championship game with a 52-42 victory over the Faith Bible Falcons on Tuesday.
“It feels amazing for these seniors girls, because I think a lot of people doubted that they could do this without the bigger hitters we had,” head coach Kerry Hall said. “They have worked really hard going out of their roles as being role players to ‘I’m in charge’ players.
“They have done a fantastic job, and I couldn’t be more proud of them — I’m proud of (the entire team), but the seniors girls, this is huge for them.”
The Trojans (28-1) have been dominate in their last few outings — defeating teams by a combined margin of 77 points — and that didn’t change in the semifinal game at the Pendleton Convention Center.
Kennedy got off to a fast start with a 13-7 lead over the Falcons (26-3) after the first quarter. Steady shooting, and aggressiveness in the paint gave the Trojans the edge over No. 5 Faith Bible.
The Trojans beat the Falcons under rim, grabbing 11 offensive rebounds in the first half alone.
Out of the half, the Trojans doubled the Falcons’ third-quarter output and despite scoring a game-low 10 points in the fourth quarter, were able to hold off Faith Bible’s late efforts.
“It feels good because two years ago, it was kind of like the seniors dominated but this year we’ve got sophomores starting, we have a junior, we have seniors,” Hannah Arritola, one of six seniors, said. “It’s just a group effort.”
Leading the Trojans was Sophia Carley, who recorded a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Kalysaa Kleinschmit followed with 11 points and eight boards and Molly Jaeger and Arritola combined for 15 points.
“It feels good when you’re playing like that,” Kleinschmit said. “If you’re not going your hardest it isn’t as fun, and everybody was playing fun and hard.”
For the Falcons, Katie Fajer finished with a game-high 18 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double. She was the only player on Faith Bible’s roster to score in double digits.
Kennedy will face the defending champions, No. 2 Monroe, in the title game tomorrow at 3:15 p.m.
Faith Bible will be pitted against No. 6 St. Paul in the third-place game. Tipoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
FBHS 7 12 8 15 — 42
KHS 13 13 16 10 — 52
FAITH BIBLE — K. Fajer 18, S. Fajer 8, Y. PENN 7, A. Goodloe 5, I. Steerman 2, K. Bolton 2.
KENNEDY — S. Carley, 14, K. Kleinschmit 11, M. Jaeger 8, H. Arritola 7, I. Gomez 5, K. Cantu 3, C. Traeger 2, A. Frey 2.
3-pointers — FBHS 0, KHS 1. Free throws — FBHS 14-22, KHS 13-27. Fouls — FBHS 19, KHS 15.
NO. 2 MONROE 57, NO. 6 ST. PAUL 42 — The defending 2A champions after headed back to the title game after a 57-42 defeat over St. Paul in the semifinals.
The Dragons (25-3) asserted their dominance early, leading 19-9 after the first eight minutes of play. But that first quarter didn’t set the tone until the second half.
In the second quarter, St. Paul held Monroe to only nine points after the Dragons committed two turnovers and the Buckaroos (23-5) had five second-chance baskets.
St. Paul cut its deficit to only seven points before the break, as Monroe led 28-21, and out of halftime, the Bucks remained steady scoring 12 points in each the second-fourth quarter.
They trailed the Dragons by only one possession early in the third quarter. Monroe had some good looks at the basket and a few second-chance opportunities but couldn’t get points on the board.
Finally, Kailey Martin layed the ball in to push Monroe’s lead to five, 30-25, and the Dragons went on a 10-3 run to boost its advantage.
St. Paul threatened a tie one more time in the fourth quarter but another run (13-5) in favor of the Dragons led to the eventual game-winning score of 57-42.
Leading Monroe was Peyton Greene with a game-best 19 points. Kailey Martin followed with 16 and Madison Ballard notched 14 of her own. Greene also finished with afternoon with a double-double by grabbing 11 rebounds.
For St. Paul, Isabelle Wyss had 13 points and Logan Robinson followed with 12.
SPHS 9 12 12 12 — 42
MHS 19 9 14 15 — 57
ST. PAUL — I. Wyss 13, L. Robinson 12, M. Tuck 8, D. Hernandez 5, E. Conner 5, R. Vela 2.
MONROE — P. Greene 19, K. Martin 16, M. Ballard 14, K. Martin 4, C. Knaggs 2, M. Lopez 2.
3-pointers — SPHS 4, MHS 4. Free throws — SPHS 13-16, MHS 7-9. Fouls — SPHS 14, MHS 14.
Contact Alexis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4542. Follow her on Twitter @almansanarez.