SAN JOSE -- After getting over its first quarter jitters, the Kennedy-Richmond High girls basketball team on Wednesday showed why it went undefeated in the Tri-County Athletic League Stone Division -- and why it belongs in the Northern California Division III regional playoffs.
Kennedy-Richmond outhustled Branham to earn a 69-54 win over in the first round of the NorCal Division III playoffs, advancing to face Sacred Heart Cathedral-San Francisco (22-6) in the second round Saturday at 6 p.m.
"The wheels fell off in the middle of the fourth quarter," said Branham coach Sam Hernandez. "They are very athletic and there is a reason they are in NorCals. They finished strong. We weren't getting second and third shots."
The Bruins trailed 50-45 going into the fourth quarter, and only scored nine more points.
Kennedy (26-6) took its first lead of the game, 38-37, off a steal by Destanee Alexander and a basket by Julian Robinson with a little more than four minutes left in the third quarter. Robinson finished with 27 points and was a presence in the middle, limiting Branham's second and third shots.
"We were patient," said Kennedy coach Rae Jackson. "We played our up-tempo game and after a while were able to dump it inside to Julian. Our philosophy is to build offensive pressure with the transition game and then add defensive pressure."
Branham (23-8) came out with no jitters, outscoring Kennedy 21-12 in the first quarter. Regina Sankey scored 18 points in the first half, finishing with 33 points.
"Coach said this might be our last game so we gave it everything we had," said Sankey. "We came up short, but did the best we could. They are a big team and hard for us to block out. And, when we didn't get rebounds it killed us."
Kennedy's Raven Caldwell chipped in 15 points, with 13 coming in the first half.
Kennedy-Richmond 69, Branham-San Jose 54
Bardell 4 3-6 11, Caldwell 5 3-5 17, Robinson 11 2-4 24, Meriwether 1 2-2 4, Alexander 4 0-0 8, Chow 2 0-0 5. Totals 27 10-15 69.
Mok 2 0-0 4, Parson 2 0-0 5, Morway 5 0-0 10, Sankey 9 7-11 30, Yoshinu 2 0-0 5. Totals 20 7-11 54.
Kennedy 12 17 21 19-- 69
Branham 21 12 12 9-- 54
3-point goals: Caldwell 4, Chow, Sankey 5, Parson, Yoshinu.