Kennedy downs rival Memorial
Kennedy’s recent shooting would seem uncanny if the Rockets hadn’t put on similar displays of marksmanship before.
The Rockets (10-17, 5-4) sank 18 3-point shots — 13 from Cliff Lopez in a career-high scoring outing — in a 75-58 District 26-5A win over rival Memorial (6-19, 1-7) at Edgewood Gym on Friday. Lopez shot 65 percent from long distance on the way to a 41-point outing. A layup late in the game was the junior’s only attempt inside the three-point circle.
“They shot the ball extremely well tonight,” said Memorial coach Jon Alvarez, who watched Kennedy make seven 3-pointers in the third quarter of a 64-62 win 364 days earlier. “It definitely wasn’t our game plan to let Cliff shoot all those threes. He’s just a great shooter, and they find ways to get him the ball.”
As a team, Kennedy made 18 of 33 three-pointers (54 percent) despite facing multiple defenses from the Minutemen. Through three quarters, the Rockets connected on 16 of 27 from that range.
“We’ve got no height, so we have to go up and down (court),” Kennedy coach Isaac Gomez said, “and try to score as much as we can. I think our ball movement was a little bit better.
“It was a good game. I was happy seeing all the fans on both sides.”
Kennedy’s first three baskets were three-pointers and one from senior Lazaro Rodriguez (14 points., 6 rebounds, 2 steals) off an assist from Chris Gonzales.
Still, Memorial trailed only 9-7. The Minutemen took an 11-9 lead with a pair of free throws from Javier Pimentel and a 13-foot jump shot by Damian Cardenas (13 points). Almost as quickly, the lead vanished.
Lopez hit back-to-back three-pointers, which opened up a driving lane for Rodriguez. Kennedy, which won its third-consecutive game, rattled off 11 unanswered points for a 20-11 lead it never surrendered.
“We’ve been playing better team ball,” Rodriguez said. “We’re passing the ball more. The first couple of (district) games, we were playing individually, but we fixed all that.”
Memorial is without four players who started the season, including both starting guards.
Minutemen senior Michael McGlothlin, who was averaging 13.4 points a game, was struck by a car as he walked to the bus at Boerne Champion Dec. 18. His leg was fractured. McGlothlin isn’t expected to return.
“They’re doing well considering,” Alvarez said. “They want to compete. It’s just tough when you’re missing four kids.”
Leading scorer Phillip Lopez (19 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, 2 steals) scored Memorial’s first four points in the second quarter, cutting the Rockets’ lead to 27-24. The 6-foot-4 senior made a pair of free throws and a three-pointer.
“Phillip’s our warhorse,” Alvarez said. “He’s really developed his all-around game as a senior, but at the end of the day, he’s playing 32 minutes. He’s always keeping the other kids up.”
Rodriguez made a three-quarter court shot a the halftime buzzer to increase Kennedy’s lead to 39-27. It started another shooting barrage. Lopez sank five 3-pointers in the third quarter and Joseph Gonzales made one as the Rockets’ lead grew to 63-43.
“I just tell them to stay positive,” Rodriguez said. “Even if we’re down, we can catch up if we play team ball. I tell them, ‘Just take it one game at a time.’ ”