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Girls' basketball: Second-half surge lifts Royals past Kennedy

Woodbury senior guard Rachel Hakes drives to the basket in the first half against Bloomington Kennedy Wednesday, Dec. 20. Hakes scored 31 points to lead the Royals to a 67-51 victory. John Molene / contributor1 / 4
Royals senior guard Kassidy Mackie goes up for two points in the first half against Bloomington Kennedy. John Molene / contributor 2 / 4
Forward Lizzy Dodge of the Royals has her guard up in the second half against Bloomington Kennedy in Woodbury's 67-51 win. John Molene / contributor 3 / 4
Woodbury's Solape Amusan likes what she sees as she drives to the basket in the first half Wednesday, Dec. 20, against Bloomington Kennedy. John Molene / contributor4 / 4

Tied at 42-all with 9:38 to play, Woodbury dominated the last nine and a half minutes to pull away from visiting Blooming Kennedy in girls basketball Wednesday, Dec. 20.

The Royals outscored the visitors 24-9 down the stretch to earn the 67-51 non-conference victory.

"I think we started locking down on defense more," said Woodbury star guard Rachel Hakes, who blitzed the Eagles for a season-high 31 points. "We also seemed a little bit more composed on offense. When we push the ball sometimes we get a little out of whack and I think we just calmed down and looked for the mismatches and got layups."

Woodbury led just 30-27 at the half and the game was tied at 42-all with 9:38 remaining. Then the Royals upped their games on both the offensive and defensive ends, ratcheting up the defense and working the ball offensively for one good shot after another.

"Offensively we were looking at the transition a little bit more," said Woodbury head coach Megan Kirchenwitz. "We were connecting and scoring out of it. (We were) just being a little more aggressive, so that was good.

"I felt the girls showed a lot of composure tonight, again," Kirchenwitz added. "And I think we continue to grow in different ways and that's just one way, is that they're able to go down the line, possession by possession and control the tempo. I know it was a one-point game but I just felt we had the reins. And whatever we wanted to do offensively, we were able to dictate it even with missing a ton of bunnies and open shots."

Woodbury outscored Kennedy 9-0 during a key two and half minute stretch to pull away to a 51-42 advantage with 5:45 to play. The Royals then kept Kennedy at bay the rest of the way.

"There definitely was a different energy," said Hakes. "I think there was a lot more communication and once you get on a roll, once you're making layups — in the first half we missed a lot of layups. In the second half we just started rolling like we usually do. We're a second half team."

It was only the second loss of the season for the Kennedy Eagles, now 5-2.

Woodbury evened its season record at 3-all.

"I felt we came together, we talked more on D and we just out-hustled them in the second half and knocked them down," added junior forward Solape Amusan who scored 12 points for the Royals. "We knew that once the baskets started going in, it just made us go better and we played defense and played our game."

Guards Kassidy Mackie and Carley West had eight points each for Woodbury.

The Royals are idle until Jan. 5 when they travel to Cottage Grove for an SEC game against Park. Woodbury swept the Wolfpack a year ago, winning a pair of thrillers 46-44 and 60-57. Before that, Park had won six straight in the series.

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