Any time the Sacramento Dragons can earn a day off from practice, it makes for a raucous and rowdy locker room scene. Practices for this lot are always an exhaustive experience, to the point of headaches and jelly legs.
The top-ranked Dragons blew open a Metro Conference showdown with No. 6 Kennedy on Thursday night with a 22-4 run in the third quarter to seize a 72-54 triumph in a battle for first place in Greenhaven.
Challenged to up their games in place of injured starting ace guard Jasmine Ware, senior guards Briana Womack and Jehiah Cook delivered in a big way. Cook was a ball-handling marvel, pushing the tempo, attacking and finding shooters. She had 17 points and eight assists. Womack had 20 points, more than double her average, in hitting a game-high five three-pointers.
Also for the Dragons: Casey Williams scored 11, including a trio of three-pointers, and center Ayanna Edwards powered inside for 10 points, including two three-point plays, and had 14 rebounds and six blocked shots.
Chaya Durr had six points, hustled and slithered for 11 rebounds, and the Dragons' defense collectively made it a brutal second half for the Cougars and their dynamic junior wing Lynette Johnson, who came in averaging 20.8 points and had just 12, two in the second half.
The Dragons (12-6, 6-0) remain unbeaten against Sac-Joaquin Section foes in winning their eighth consecutive game and 60th in row in Metro play.
Sacramento coach Michele Massari praised her team, the effort and the first-place standing, then got the place unglued when she announced they earned a day off. The players' only regret was Massari not doing more of a post-game dance.
"I asked Womack and Cook who was going to make up for Jasmine's energy, and they both stepped up and played a great game," Massari said. "So proud of them. Cook, she can only stop herself. Womack is totally an unsung hero for us. Doesn't get a lot of credit or glory, but she's so good for us."
Kennedy coach Dave Parsh said before the game he knew the Dragons were the region's best, and Sacramento left no doubt. Parsh knows his hoops, having coached St. Francis to a state title in 1993 and Kennedy to recent league title success.
The Cougars (13-6, 5-1) are still very much a Metro factor, especially with leaders in Johnson, Amayla Greer (13 points) and Lori Wong (10 points). Johnson had some terrific moments, snaring 11 rebounds, coming up with three steals, hitting shots from all over, but she was worn out by the Dragons' defense in the second half.
Though Ware is the Dragons' top talent, a 5-foot-10 guard headed to UC Santa Barbara and slowed with a knee injury, Sacramento grinds down teams with ball handlers, shooters and a swarming, suffocating defense.
Ware will have an MRI to check the extent of a knee injury. In the meantime, Cook and Womack vow to keep pushing the pace. .