Forwards Walt Lauderdale and Jeff Green combined for 36 points to lead Kennedy High School to a 56-46 win over Laguna Beach Wednesday night in the opening round of the Santiago Holiday Tournament at Garden Grove.
The Irish improved their record to 8-2 by scoring eight unanswered points in the third quarter to break open a close game. The teams were tied, 26-26, when guard Brett Bissell made two straight shots, guard Darrin Queen scored on a follow shot and Green added another jump shot to move Kennedy ahead by eight points.
Green's shot came with 1:59 remaining in the third quarter and finished the spurt that sent Laguna Beach to its fifth loss in eight outings this season. Green was the top scorer in the game with 20 points and added 8 rebounds. He made 9 of 17 field goal attempts and 2 of 3 free throw shots.
Lauderdale, a three-year letterman, added 16 points and 7 rebounds. The 6-2 senior helped the Irish open with a 10-3 lead by making two straight shots but Laguna Beach regrouped in the second quarter and led, 22-20, at halftime on a follow shot by center Mark McGrath.
"I've been waiting for Green and Lauderdale to break loose at the same time all season," Kennedy Coach Dick Mayberry said. "Green made some nice passes in the second half and Lauderdale was consistently good. I'm still waiting for us to play four good quarters."
Mayberry had to be content with three on Wednesday night. The Irish were good in the first, third and fourth quarters, but slumped in the second by making only 1 of 10 shots and were held to 6 points.
Forward Coby Naess keyed the Artists' comeback in the second quarter by scoring 6 of his 18 points but inconsistency also plagued Laguna Beach's best player. Naess managed only five points in the second half and consequently the Artists scored only 24 points, 10 of those coming after Mayberry cleared his bench with two minutes remaining.
Green all but clinched the victory with 2:43 left to play when he drove the length of the court and dunked to move Kennedy ahead, 52-37.
"We started out real well in the first quarter, then got stagnant," Mayberry said. "Part of that comes having being idle for the past 11 days. I'm real pleased with our depth. After Lauderdale and Green, I've got eight guys who are all equal and you never know who's going to contribute the most between them. Every game, it's somebody different."
In other first-round action:
Valencia 62, Garden Grove 49--Center Geoff Adams led a second-half surge that lifted Valencia to its sixth win of the season and snapped a two-game losing streak. Adams scored 10 points following intermission after going scoreless in the first half.
The Tigers made 16 of 28 field goal attempts in the second half and had a 62-42 lead with 1:07 left to play when Coach Ray Rodriguez cleared his bench. Kevin Jones scored six points in each quarter to lead all scorers with 24 points.
"This is a key tournament for us before our league starts and we're still behind with the loss of Chris Rojo," Rodriguez said. "I'm trying to break in a fifth starter because Rojo won't be back until the second half of league play."
Rojo, considered the Tigers' best guard, injured his knee against Cerritos in the Fullerton Tournament and faces athroscopic surgery. But Rodriguez had to be pleased with the play of Adams.
"He's only had one full season of basketball for us," Rodriguez said. "He didn't play as a freshman and was injured halfway through his sophomore year. He just needs some game experience.
"We're still having problems with our halfcourt offense. We're too slow and not getting enough ball movement."