Coach Yontami Jones walked to the Kenmore girls basketball locker room Thursday with her assistant coaches composed and ready to make adjustments at halftime.
An eight-point deficit against rival Firestone might have caused some of the Cardinals to panic, but not Jones.
“I told the kids at halftime this is our house, this is our game and we were down like this to them at their school and we came back and won,” Jones said. “I also told them in order for us to win this game, we cannot reach at the top of the key, because if they reach, they go by us. I wanted them to move their feet.”
The host Cardinals listened and put together a suffocating, full-court press to rally and defeat the Falcons 72-52 in a City Series game.
Kenmore senior Porshae Hearn spearheaded the comeback and finished with 27 points, 18 rebounds, five steals, three assists and one block.
“We got into our press immediately in the second half and then we just dominated,” Hearn said. “We stopped reaching and started trapping. We worked hard on defense and slowed it down on offense to come back and get the win.”
The Cardinals (9-3, 8-0) scored 51 points in the second half and had 12 turnovers. The Falcons (8-6, 5-2) scored 23 points and made 17 turnovers.
“It was the most fun game and exciting game because we are rivals,” Hearn said. “Everybody comes to watch us play and we wanted them to know that we are the best team.”
Kenmore needs to win four more City Series games to sweep the regular season. The Cardinals secured a season sweep over the Falcons with Thursday’s win and a 56-46 win at Firestone in November.
Firestone held a 14-10 lead after one quarter and was ahead 29-21 at halftime.
The Falcons’ advantage grew to 37-28 midway through the third. The Cardinals responded with a 24-2 run in the next eight minutes and led 52-39 after Hearn made two free throws with four minutes go. Hearn scored 10 points in the third quarter.
“Porshae is our senior leader,” Jones said. “There are times where people might think she shoots a lot, but I’m OK with it because she is a shooter and our go-to-person. She also gets people involved. With a hard game like tonight, she made sure everyone was involved in the game.”
Sophomore Whiuanna Jeffries had 12 points, eight rebounds and three steals for Kenmore. Junior Shannon Hall had 12 points and two steals, and freshman Breanna Hill had 11 points and two blocks.
Sophomore Casey McCormick chipped in 10 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and two blocks. Freshman Sarah Taylor and senior Brandi Good also contributed during Kenmore’s surge.
Senior Imani Scott paced Firestone with 17 points and five assists. Sophomore Darian Carter scored 11 points. Seniors Brooke Morgan and Brea Forney both had eight points. Morgan also had five rebounds and five steals.
Firestone coach Audley McGill said he talked to his team about a press break during three timeouts.
“That was three opportunities we had to fix what was wrong with the press break,” he said. “We talked with the kids. They just didn’t adjust.”