As girls high school basketball playoffs go, Kennedy High's 60-53 overtime win over Crenshaw in the City 4-A semifinals at the Sports Arena on Friday night was as much a masterpiece as a graffiti-covered garage door.
But it got the message across.
The message is this: No matter how poorly Kennedy plays, it probably will win a City championship.
Kennedy made only 17 of 62 field-goal attempts (27%) in advancing to next Friday's final against Washington. Those 45 misses were the reason Crenshaw was able to take the top-ranked Golden Cougars to overtime.
"I've never seen a team of mine miss wide-open layups like that," said Kennedy Coach Craig Raub.
He saw seven, to be exact.
Even Stacy Parson, Kennedy's All-City guard, committed more than her share of blunders. Parson had five points in the first half, but missed all nine of her field-goal attempts. She finished with a team-high 20 points, but 14 came on free throws as Kennedy outscored Crenshaw, 26-9, at the free throw line.
The Golden Cougars trailed by as many as 11 in the first quarter but managed to cut the deficit to 22-20 at halftime.
The game was tied at 26 with 5:10 left in the third quarter, but Yolanda Kelley, Crenshaw's top player, was called for her fourth foul and sat out the rest of the quarter.
Kennedy scored the next eight points and built a nine-point lead just before the end of the quarter.
"She had to be a big loss for them," Parson said. "She was hitting everything she put up there--and not because she wasn't being guarded closely."
Kelley entered the game averaging 22 points and 12 rebounds. She re-entered the game at the start of the fourh quarter with Crenshaw trailing by seven, but she fouled only two minutes later after the margin had been cut to 44-40.
"Kennedy has a great pressure defense and without Yolanda we didn't have any shooters," said Crenshaw assistant Major Dennis. "With her, I think we would have won."
Maria Elzy took up the scoring slack for Crenshaw, scoring 20 points, eight in the fourth quarter.
Kennedy, which has reached the finals in four of the last five years, will play Washington, a 48-31 winner over Banning, in the Sports Arena at 5:45 p.m.
Raub said that Parson will have to return to form before he feels comfortable in the role of favorite.
"Last year, she went wild in the semifinals, then had a terrible game in the finals," Raub said. "This year maybe she'll turn that around."
On a positive note for Kennedy, center Diane DeCree had a big second-half in only her second game after a three-game absence due to an injury. She had 15 points, including the first two baskets as Kennedy outscored Crenshaw, 9-2, in overtime.
The Golden Cougars have won 12 in a row since a 51-46 loss to Buena, the defending Southern Section 4-A champion, on Dec. 28.