Kennedy's Isieoma Odor, left, and Eastview's Emee Udo (Marlin Levison/Star Tribune)
Bloomington Kennedy’s swarming defense was too much for Eastview’s striking offense. The Eagles held the Lightning 30 points under its average and limited the state’s best three-point shooter for a 43-39 victory in Thursday night’s Class 4A semifinals at Target Center.
Kennedy will meet two-time defending state champion Hopkins in Saturday’s title game.
“We really pushed our defense,” Eagles’ Jade Martin said. “Kenisha [Bell] just stepped up and put tons of pressure on [Guebert] and that’s what we needed to win the game.”
Trailing by six with a minute to play, the Lightning couldn’t find a shooter. It passed the ball around for 35 seconds until the Martin sisters (Jade, 11 points, and Jasmyn, 10 rebounds, nine points) knocked it away. This stop all-but secured Kennedy’s win as the frustrated Eastview players didn’t know what else to do.
“We had a lot of good shots that didn’t fall,” said Guebert after scoring 19 points, 10 from free throws and 3-of-8 from three-point range.
There wasn’t much either team could do right in the first half. The Eagles turned the ball over seven consecutive possessions to start the game. However it wasn’t the inability to hold onto the ball that infuriated coach Quintin Johnson. He screamed timeout 49 seconds into the game after Guebert scored Eastview’s first points on an uncontested three-pointer.
He needed to make a point ? never leave Guebert alone. The Eagles responded and she only shot one more three the rest of the half and eight in the game.
Others tried to pick up the Lightning’s perimeter shooting, Tyra Johnson (12 points) had two, but it took a hit without Guebert’s touch.
“I feel like we didn’t wake up until the end of the first half,” Tonoia Wade (10 points, five rebounds) said. “But we weren’t going to lose to them again.”
1. Jade Martin, Bloomington Kennedy
This Georgetown commit caused the Eastview offense to have fits throughout the game. While slowed to only 11 points on the offensive end, she made sure that nothing would come easy for her opponents.
2. Tonioa Wade, Bloomington Kennedy
The only other player for Kennedy to reach double digits in points, Wade was instrumental in pulling away in the closing minutes of the game. Her 10 points and 5 rebounds were a big part of this Eagles win.
3. Tyra Johnson, Eastview
While Madison Guebert was the leading scorer, Johnson was the glue that held this team together. A rare floor general from the post position, she was a large reason that Eastview was in this until the very end. She finished with 12 points, 4 blocks, and 2 steals.
-Jake Lunemann, MN Girls Basketball Hub