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Sky falls on Lady Blue Devils despite strong performance

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From page B1 | February 22, 2013 |

DHS senior Ashleigh Vandenbrink shoots between two Kennedy defenders in Thursday's Sac-Joaquin Section second-round playoff contest. Vandenbrink had 29 points but the Cougars eliminated the Blue Devils, 71-56. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

SACRAMENTO — It took a near-perfect Kennedy quarter to end the Davis High girls basketball season.

That rally brought the No. 3 Cougars from behind and into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I quarterfinals — and even Kennedy coach Dave Parsh said his girls had done nothing like their seven consecutive 3-pointers in the fourth period.

In the end, home-standing Kennedy survived, 71-56, in a second-round playoff game on Thursday night. But that score was deceptive …

The Lady Blue Devils opened a 20-11 first-period lead thanks to a 14-point outburst from Delta Valley Conference Player of the Year Ashleigh Vandenbrink.

The locals led, 34-26, at intermission and were hanging on going into those final eight minutes, nursing a two-point lead at 45-43.

Then the roof fell in …

After Vandenbrink’s bucket at the third-period buzzer gave DHS its last lead, Cougars Katie Lee and Jessica Lauderdale opened the fourth by hitting from beyond the arc and things got fuzzy for the Devils.

Vandenbrink swiped a pass, drove the length of the court and scored, but Lee and Lauderdale hit two more treys — Lee’s shot from downtown banked in, adding insult to injury.

Lee would hit a couple of more 3-pointers and Lynette Johnson added one of her own, turning a hard-fought game into a misleading runaway.

While Lee finished with 20 points, it was Johnson who was steady throughout. Her 25-point night was augmented by five rebounds and three steals. Lauderdale added 17 points.

“We’ve shot the ball pretty well this year,” Parsh told The Enterprise after seeing his girls hit 22-of-43 of their attempts — including a back-breaking 14 treys. “We haven’t had a hot quarter like that this year.”

Kennedy needed it, because No. 6-seed Davis was on its game most of the night.

The first eight minutes belonged to Vandenbrink. After baskets by Rachael Allison, Vandenbrink and Powell knotted the game at 6-6 early, Powell scored off of a nifty assist from Allison — just before Vandenbrink’s trey hinted at what was ahead.

With the game tied at 11-11, the brilliant senior ripped off three more arc-breakers before a reeling Kennedy was saved by the buzzer.

The Cougars, who finished second to Division II No. 1 seed Sacramento in the rugged Metro League, were turning their defensive attention to Vandenbrink in the second quarter. So Vandenbrink began to dish the ball and hammer the boards. Her adjustments allowed Powell to shake loose for couple of long balls. Powell’s sharpshooting protected the Blue Devil lead and Parsh had to make adjustments in the locker room.

“Their 20 (Vandenbrink) is a pretty darn good player,” Parsh understated. “So at halftime we decided to focus our defense on her. I think that made a big difference.”

Well, maybe not a big difference. Despite the additional attention she received, Vandenbrink still managed 12 second-half points, five late rebounds and two assists — finishing with game-highs of 29 points and 10 rebounds.

However, Davis had no answers for Kennedy’s falling-sky shooting and left the dance two days after beating Napa in a first-round game at The Cage.

“I’m proud of (our girls),” said DHS coach Karen Foster. “They played hard. The best effort we could give. You have to give it to (Kennedy) … they shot what? Ninety perfect from that left side (nine-for-11 actually).

“We played hard. We did what we wanted to do. My hat’s off to Kennedy, but my girls played well.”

Despite 6-foot-2 Cougar Dalayne Tyler-Scott clogging the middle, Devils Emma Stenz, Allison, Katie Grahn and Vandenbrink were effective enough to actually give Davis the rebound advantage, 31-30.

Allison and Stenz had six points each and Allison — a freshman — was busy elsewhere with two steals and three assists.

Powell ended her varsity career with 10 points.

So what about her three-year starters Powell and Vandenbrink?

“Unbelievable. Ashleigh did her job, Tori did her job,” Foster added. “It’s good for the younger players, especially the freshmen, to see that. We’ll be stronger for it next year.”

Notes: Devil senior guard Kylie Drexel, who played well down the stretch of the season, now heads off lacrosse. Drexel had three assists and two rebounds in her basketball swan song. … Both Kennedy and Davis are now 23-5 — but the Cougars get a chance to improve next Thursday at Pacific against Oak Ridge. The Trojans knocked off DVC second-place Monterey Trail, 52-37. … Kennedy hit 117-of-253 3-pointers this season (45 percent).

— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.

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