It wasn't the result the Kennedy girls wanted Saturday against perennial state power Berkeley.
Despite 19 points and 11 rebounds by gifted junior Lynette Johnson, the No. 3 Cougars (26-9) fell 56-38 to the top-seeded Yellowjackets (29-2) in the CIF Northern California Regional Division I girls basketball championship game at Power Balance Pavilion.
Still, it was quite a run for a group of girls who thought this was a rebuilding year at the start of the season; tied for second with Florin in their own Metro Conference (to Sacramento High); then won close battle after close battle in the playoffs, including a double-overtime win against Oak Ridge for the Sac-Joaquin D-I Section championship.
They did it for a school working to rebuild its athletic reputation in a cash-strapped school district where sports are always on the chopping block, as they are again this year.
In the fall, the Greenhaven school was the subject of some unwanted attention after a brawl with league rival McClatchy that led the removal of eight Kennedy football players (and one from McClatchy) from the team. Coach Henry Lusk resigned less than a week later after the discovery of an inappropriate photo posted on Twitter.
"I think we have represented the school very well," said Kennedy girls coach Dave Parsh. "Sports is so incredibly important to this school, and we just had a resurrection of our school spirit, not just the girls on the team, but the entire school. It's really been fun to see."
The 5-foot-10 Johnson is a top college prospect who plays offseason Amateur Athletic Union basketball against some of the nation's best players.
But she says it doesn't replicate what one experiences being part of a high school team, so she would hate to think what Kennedy would be like without a basketball program.
"You are with your teammates every day, so you get a chance to grow, to become like sisters," Johnson said. "You don't get that playing AAU.
"This past month has been crazy. We played every single game with heart. It was like March Madness."
Added senior point guard Lori Wong, an exceptional student who doesn't plan to play basketball in college: "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and something we'll never forget."
The Cougars had hoped for one more memory, a chance to play Saturday in the state final at Power Balance Pavilion, but Berkeley was too tall and too quick in winning its 11th NorCal title.
Arizona State-bound point guard Elisha Davis hit four long-distance three-pointers en route to 32-16 halftime lead. Kennedy got no closer than 10 points in the second half.
Davis finished with 17 points, Rachel Howard added 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Desire Finnie had 13 points and nine rebounds.
"She hit shots from the NBA line," Wong said of Davis. "She's a really good player. Coach told us they'd be a lot like Sac High fast and it was true."
The loquacious Johnson will return next season as Kennedy's centerpiece, along with a eight other juniors and sophomores.
"This was fun," Parsh said. "Now let's see if we can catch the magic again next year."