By Ted Apodaca
Kennedy High’s boys basketball team has struggled in preseason as the Fighting Irish are transitioning with several young players moving into the varsity team. The Fighting Irish are starting several sophomores and using freshman as well this year.
The Fighting Irish had opened the season at 1-12, but may have found some momentum heading into league play as Kennedy pull off 58-54 overtime win over Bolsa Grande in their non-league finale last week at Kennedy High.
Bolsa Grande had come off a championship run in the Estancia Tournament and are the defending Garden Grove League champions as well. The Argonauts had led by as many as nine points in the second half, before the Fighting Irish were able to adjust their defense.
“There towards the end we had to try something, I think, to stop their drive,” Head Coach Jose Alvarez said.
Bolsa Grande led 39-34 early in the fourth quarter when Kennedy went on a 7-0 run to take a 41-39 lead. Branden Tran hit a three pointer that tied the game at 39-39 with 6:15 left in the game. On Bolsa’s ensuing possession, Cameron Ducree made a steal to set up a drive that ended with Tran scoring on a baseline drive and layup.
Kennedy led 52-48 in the final minute, but the Matadors were able to get a steal to get a 4-0 run to tie the game and send it to overtime. Bolsa Grande took a 54-52 lead, but Kennedy finished with a 6-0 run to get the win.
After a free throw pulled Kennedy within 54-53, Nonso Ikeji gave the Fighting Irish the lead for good on a nice give and go play with Aidan Kosaka.
Tran led the Fighting Irish with 18 points and Ikeji had 12. Kosaka had 10 points and Steven Trinh chipped in seven. The Fighting Irish have just three seniors this year. The Empire League has looked solid in the preseason, but Alvarez is hopeful his young team came make some strides.
“We’re a young team looking to rebuild, we have some young talent,” Alvarez said.
The Fighting Irish opened Empire League play on Tuesday against Western. The Fighting Irish will be at Tustin on Friday and at Cypress on Tuesday. Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m.