Miners flatten top-ranked Kennedy | TheUnion.com

Miners flatten top-ranked Kennedy

John HartNU's Megan Curtis ties up the ball with Kennedy's Sheryl Wong.
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The birthday girl got her wish.

Not a gift, but something earned.

Nevada Union sophomore Kayleigh Correll scored 25 points on her 16th birthday, sparking the Miners to a 72-51 drubbing of Kennedy Wednesday night at Nevada Union High School.

With the victory over the top-ranked team in the Sacramento area, NU (23-4 overall, 9-2 Metro League) moves within a Metro League victory of sharing the league title with Kennedy (24-4, 10-2) and perhaps St. Francis as well.

“We wanted this bad, and we definitely believed we could do it,” said Correll, who outdueled the other No. 21 on the court, Kennedy’s Alisha Hicks. “(NU coach Craig) Strohm told us to go out there and try as best we can, and … it was just wonderful.”

NU’s 21-point victory avenged a 20-point loss to Kennedy on the Cougars’ home court in January. In that first contest, NU was held to 28, but Correll had 16 of those. Wednesday, Correll matched her birthday with 16 points in the first half.

Deadlocked at 32 at intermission, NU broke open Wednesday’s game with a good mix of inside-outside offense and a zone defense that became more and more suffocating as the game went on.

“They really put it to us the first time, and we knew that meant we probably would see the same things from them,” Strohm said. “But we threw a wrinkle at them with our first zone defense of the year. But that is easier said than done. The credit goes to those girls and the way they practiced for the game and then stayed within the framework of our game plan.”

Kennedy went on an 8-2 run early in the third quarter, keyed by a pair of short-range baskets by Monique Smartt-Kidd (team-high 14 points). But after a Kennedy timeout midway through the third quarter, NU shook off its 2-for-9 shooting from the start of the quarter to go on a 13-point run to take the lead and control of the game.

Nicole Sheets (11 points) nailed two of her three treys on the evening during the run. Emma Kite added a 12-footer, and Megan Curtis chipped in a pair of free throws to give the Miners a 47-40 lead going into the final quarter. Curtis finished with 10 points, six rebounds, three blocks and two steals on the night.

“I thought Megan Curtis played her best game of the year,” Strohm said.

NU held Kennedy scoreless for 5:37 during their 13-point run. And that was just the early phase of the Miners’ second-half defensive showing. Though Kennedy shot 50 percent from the field in the first-half, the Cougars made only 6-of-30 shots in the second half.

NU slammed the game shut by hitting four three-pointers in the final quarter.

Kennedy’s Alisha Hicks, a sophomore who scored 16 against NU in January, managed 13 points, including two bombs for treys, but also shot another three trey attempts that found nothing but air.

Hicks, who struggled against the 1-2-2 Miner zone all night, was held scoreless in the first quarter.

By contrast, Correll hit a pair of treys and scored on two drives for 10 points in the opening quarter.

Correll had continued success in the second quarter, using her speed to beat defenders off the dribble.

“Wow,” said Strohm, the shock of the blowout still seeping in. “Hey, we’ve got out own super sophomore.”

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