Defense leads the way for Kennedy girls basketball

Kennedy senior Raegon Shirling-Davis (10) drives for two of her team-high 20 points in Wednesday night’s win.

The Kennedy girls basketball team’s defense had a specific target entering Wednesday night’s NVL game at home against Sacred Heart.
She was wearing No. 5.
That would be Treasure Coleman.
“She scored 20 points and had seven assists [against Torrington], so she accounted for 34 of their 44 points,” Kennedy head coach Jennifer Deeley said. “She was our focus this week.”
Coleman had just five points, and the Eagles also held Victoria Santiago to four points in a 60-42 victory over the Hearts inside Jack Taglia Gymnasium. Santiago needed four points to reach 1,000 for her career, but the Eagles allowed her nothing after that.

Kennedy improved to 10-3 with the win and has won four straight games after having a three-game losing streak.
“I think we’re headed in the right direction,” Deeley said.

Kennedy senior Joyce Benton (21) helped hold Sacred Heart
junior Victoria Santiago to just four points Wednesday night.

A big reason why is senior guard Joyce Benton. Benton was the third-highest scorer for Kennedy with 14 points on Wednesday, but get past the numbers to realize her importance to the team.
“She’s under control, she’s a floor general,” Deeley said. “She really is an extension of the coaching staff on the floor.”
Sometimes, Benton is too unselfish, and Deeley would even like her to have the ball more often.
 “She just plays for the high-percentage shot,” Deeley said.
Oh yeah, and Benton plays defense too. She often found herself matched up with the bigger Santiago, but she did well. Benton also had help from others as Kennedy surrounded the Sacred Heart junior.

Fellow senior guard Raegon Shirling-Davis led the Eagles with 20 points, and she did it in a variety of ways. Sophomore Shyan Perez dropped in 15 points, including a 9-for-10 effort from the foul line.

Kennedy sophomore guard Shyan Perez (11) had 15 points,
including a 9-for-10 effort from the foul line.

With Kennedy, it’s pick your poison. 
“Our guards are pretty quick, and they’re experienced,” Deeley said.
Shirling-Davis and Benton have been in the program for four years. Those two and Perez can all get to the basket.
Sacred Heart went with a zone defense to try to slow down Kennedy. Shirling-Davis made three 3-pointers while Perez knocked down two from beyond the arc.
“They can shoot the ball,” Deeley said.
Deeley said she would take her guards against man-to-man matchups as well.
Junior Yakira Edwards had seven points, including a baseline runner in the final seconds to put Kennedy up 23-17 at halftime. 
“I thought our defense in the first half was spectacular,” Deeley said.
Sophomore big Hannah West had four points, but impacted the game in many other ways off the bench. West clogged the middle, blocking shots and grabbing rebounds in some meaningful minutes.
“The more minutes she gets, the more confidence she’s getting,” Deeley said.
Kennedy extended its six-point halftime lead to 42-28 by the end of the third quarter. When Sacred Heart began fouling in the fourth quarter, the Eagles buried foul shots to put the Hearts further out of reach.
If there was something Deeley didn’t like, it was the easy points Sacred Heart got at the foul line. The Hearts canned 16 of 19 foul shots.
“You can’t give a team 19 extra chances,” Deeley said.
Other than that, a good game from Kennedy. The Eagles host Kaynor Tech today at 7 p.m. Kennedy plays Seymour on the road next Monday before a showdown with NVL power Holy Cross on Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. at Kennedy High School.