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Bloomington Kennedy guard Kenisha Bell drives the lane for two points against Lakeville South forward M'Caela Sellers in a 57-55 Eagles win at Apple Valley High School. Photo by Rick Orndorf
Bloomington Kennedy's Kenisha Bell has been there and done that.
There is not much that will make the senior guard nervous, not even being down three points with a minute to go in the Class 4A, Section 2 semifinals.
Bell scored the final five points for the top-seeded Eagles in their 57-55 victory against fifth-seed and conference rival Lakeville South on Saturday at Apple Valley High School to advance to the section finals.
"She's the best in the state," Eagles' coach Quintin Johnson said. "All these others have all these points, but I would just rather give the ball to her."
The Cougars led by 12 points at one point in the first half and had a three-point lead in the closing minutes, but Bell's heroics took over.
Know for her aggressive drives and pull-up jumpers, Bell had to go outside to propel the Eagles. She made a move to drive to the basket, but her defender fell, and an opportunity was right in front of her.
"She fell, and I paused for a second and knew I had to take the three," Bell said. "I'm not the best 3-point shooter, but I knew I had to take it."
Bell let go, and right after it left her hands she knew she tied the game up.
"I was like yeah, it's going in," Bell said.
Her afternoon was not over. After teammate Isieoma Odor made the defensive play of the game, blocking a shot near the baseline, Bell, like she has done so many times before, took over.
She went to her bread and butter, drive and pull-up for a jumper. She connected with only 4 seconds left to finish with 25 points, but more importantly, give the Eagles the lead.
"It was intense," Bell said. "But I am comfortable with that. Some people don't like to have that pressure, because they might miss the layup or the final shot. I am OK with that."
Bell's play in the second half echoes that. Fourteen of her 25 points came in the second half and more importantly, came through when Bloomington Kennedy needed her the most.
"She's the rock of our team," Johnson said.
Lakeville South, which beat the Eagles earlier this year to split the regular season series, still had a chance, but a shot from three hit the glass at the buzzer, and an emotional Johnson, with both arms in the air in jubilation was the first one on the court in both excitement and relief.
"You start feeling sorry for the girls at one point," Johnson said. "You never want this to end for them, so my emotions are for them, especially with how far we got last year."
Last year's runner-ups have one more hurdle to go to get to state once again.