Kennedy in semis for fifth straight year
By Marc Raimondi
Isis Alonso, simply put, couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn. John F. Ken-nedy’s best 3-point threat, her shot wasn’t dropping and you could tell it on her face. There was an airball and a shot that thudded off the backboard without touch-ing rim. It wasn’t pretty.
“In the beginning it was slow,” she said. “I was cold.”
But more than a few teammates told her to keep her chin up.
“When we need her, she comes through,” Kennedy senior Jazzarae Campbell said.
Boy, did she ever.
When Midwood made a run and took the lead in the fourth quarter, Alonso snatched it right back. The junior guard drilled two 3s in a row and No. 3 Kennedy never looked back in a 47-33 win against No. 6 Midwood in the PSAL Class AA girls basketball quarterfinals Saturday at York College. Alonso finished with just six points, but there were none bigger in the game.
“She can shoot just as good as any-body,” said Knights coach O’Neil Glenn, who isn’t exactly prone to positive hyper-bole about his team.
Kennedy (19-8) finished the game on a 17-2 run and will meet rival and No. 7 Manhattan Center in the semifinals Tuesday at St. John’s University. It’s the fifth straight time the Knights have made the semifinals – the best current streak outside of 11-time PSAL champion Murry Bergtraum.
“You gotta give credit where credit is due,” Glenn said of his program.
The Knights weren’t getting much credit at the beginning of the season and perhaps that was well deserved. This group, made up of mostly sophomores and juniors, has come a long way since its early struggles. Glenn said he feels like he finally has a team of varsity basketball players.
“No one thought we’d make it to the semifinals,” the coach said.
They almost didn’t get there. Kennedy finished the third quarter on a 7-0 run, capped by two Chelsea Custodio free throws, to turn a 21-all tie into a 28-21 lead. But Midwood (15-12) wasn’t done. On the back of Jewel Tunstull (12 points), the Hornets made a run of their own, taking a lead on the Northeastern-bound center’s 3-point play with five minutes left.
But Alonso came right down and sunk a 3 from the top of the key. Kennedy got a stop and Campbell found Alonso on the wing for another 3.
“She brought us back in the game,” Campbell said. “That hyped us up even more.”
Midwood coach Artie LaGreca said Alonso was a concern for his team, some-one the Hornets wanted to make sure they guarded on the perimeter.
“We let her get open for two 3s and she hit them both,” LaGreca said.
It wasn’t quite over yet, though. Campbell (14 points) got a steal and fin-ished a fast-break layup to make it 38-31 before Midwood could score again. All the Knights had to do was hold on with their vaunted defense, one that held Hornets sharpshooter Francess Henry to just three points.
Three minutes later, they were in the semifinals yet again.
“We proved people wrong,” Campbell said. “Every day we proved people wrong. This is our tradition.”
Glenn, true to form, wasn’t ready to celebrate.
“It’s back to the drawing board,” he said. “We haven’t won anything yet.”