The Lowell girls’ basketball team’s historical season included 29 wins and a San Francisco Section championship.
But it’s safe to assume that the Cardinals never faced an opposing player quite like Kennedy of Sacramento senior guard Jazzi Johnson.
Displaying an athleticism and court acumen that has her entertaining Division I scholarships, Johnson had 16 points, six rebounds and six assists in a little over a half of play to help lead Kennedy to a 59-34 victory over Lowell (29-3) in the NorCal Division I quarterfinals at Kezar Pavilion. The Cougars (28-4) advance to Saturday’s semifinals against top-seeded Berkeley (25-6).
Sophomore forward Melody Khlok had 20 points to lead the Cougars, who trailed just twice, the last time coming with the score 5-4.
"That kind of level of intensity is what we need to play up to," Lowell coach Aki Kuwada said. "They just a level of mental preparation we weren’t ready for."
The Cardinals kept the game tight for the first couple of minutes, thanks to the sharp shooting of junior guard Kimberly Lau, who nailed two 3-pointers in the first quarter, the last one bringing Lowell within 10-8.
The athletic Cougars would quickly respond, stringing together a 17-5 run to take a commanding 25-11 lead midway through the second quarter. Johnson and Khlok were the main culprits during the spurt, combining for 13 points for Kennedy.
Kennedy would extend their lead to 36-17 at the half, with their biggest advantage of the night coming at 57-26 near the end of the third quarter.
Lowell clamped down defensively on the Cougars in the second half, holding them to just 23 second-half points, but the Cardinals had trouble generating offense during that time, getting just two baskets over the game’s final 16 minutes.
"I told the girls, ‘We’re going to lose this game, but we need to learn something from this’," said Kuwada, who graduates just three seniors. "We need to come back next year mentally ready to match teams like this."
Kennedy 59, Lowell 34