Sacramento High's Michele Massari is a tough-love coach.
While Lynette Johnson and No. 3 Kennedy matched the top-ranked Dragons basket for basket in a Metro Conference senior night showdown in Oak Park, Massari was getting in the ears of senior Allie Green, junior Chaya Durr and freshman Aliceah Hernandez.
Green and Durr, the team's two stars, weren't providing the defensive spark Massari expected, especially with the Utah State-bound Johnson going for 17 points in the first half. Hernandez, suffering from the flu, was playing lethargically.
"I'm never satisfied," Massari said. "The kids think I'm crazy."
But Green, Durr, Hernandez and the rest of the Dragons took Massari's intense critiques to heart.
The teams went down to the wire in their first meeting with the Dragons winning by four. On Friday night, Sacramento turned a 23-23 tie with just under two minutes to play in the first half into a rout.
With Green, Durr and Hernandez leading the way, the Dragons went on a 15-0 run and held Kennedy to 15 points in the second half en route to a 54-38 victory.
The win assured the Dragons (22-4, 13-0) of another Metro Conference championship and extended their league winning streak to 90.
Green scored 18 points, Hernandez scored 15 on 5-of-7 shooting, and Durr had 12. Johnson, limited to four points in the second half, finished with 21 for Kennedy (20-5, 11-2).
Kennedy's steadfastness through two quarters couldn't match Sacramento's intensity and depth in the final 16 minutes. The exhausted Cougars made just 5 of 24 shots in the second half and were 1 of 10 from the foul line for the game.
Massari credited dedicated team conditioning coach Alex Van Dyke, a former NFL player, for helping the Dragons continue to build endurance through a long, exhausting season.
"He was at senior night with his daughter at Cosumnes Oaks (High School), then drove back here to warm our girls up," Massari said. "He plays a huge part every day in what we are able to do."
Before the start of the varsity game, a moment of silence was held for Cal State Fullerton assistant coach Monica Quan and her fiance. The two were killed Sunday, allegedly by a former Los Angeles police officer, the subject of a Southern California manhunt.
Quan recruited Sac High's Casey Williams, who signed a letter of intent with the Titans in November. Williams has missed this season because of a shoulder injury but as a senior night reward, Massari started her, then quickly removed her after the tipoff.
Kennedy and Sacramento, both defending Sac-Joaquin Section champions in Divisions I and III, will complete the regular season Monday. Sacramento plays at No. 4 McClatchy, and Kennedy is at Burbank.