Prep Basketball CITY 4-A GIRLS FINAL : Locke Wins Title on Balancing Act, Kennedy Turnovers

Times Staff Writer

Doreatha Conwell may be gone, but the winning continues at Locke High School.

The Saints, led by Denise Beck's 16 points, defeated Kennedy, 47-38, Friday at the Sports Arena to win their third consecutive City 4-A girls basketball title.

Without Conwell, the two-time City player of the year, Locke (22-2) is a more balanced team. That much was evident against a Kennedy team that finished the season at 21-5. Two of its losses were to Locke.

The Saints' leading scorer, Nancy Clayton, scored just 6 points, making 3 of 13 shots.

But Beck, a 5-9 senior forward, made up for Clayton's off night.

She made 7 of 19 shots and also grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds. Her basket with half a minute left in the game finished a five-point Locke run that finished Kennedy. The Golden Cougars had closed the gap to 40-38 with 2:15 remaining.

"This is great," said Beck, who was voted the tournament's outstanding player along with Shameil Coleman of Fairfax. "I've been here three times and we've won the City every time.

"I've never won a state championship and I'd like to get one before I leave."

Had Kennedy gotten its offense in gear it might be playing in the Southern California regional tournament next week.

The Golden Cougars, who lost to Locke in the finals for the third time in five years, turned the ball over 29 times.

Kennedy also shot just 35% (18 of 51) from the field. Stacy Parson, Kennedy's leading scorer, scored just 6 points, making 3 of 13 shots.

"I just never got warmed up," Parson, a junior, said. "Maybe I was nervous. It's disappointing because the team worked so hard."

Kennedy played well on defense, holding Locke to 31% shooting (20 of 64). But the Cougars never got on track offensively.

"I kept waiting for us to make a run," Kennedy Coach Craig Raub said. "We've always had one even in the games we lost. But we didn't have one this time.

"We're lucky we weren't killed. If we had shot this way in other games we wouldn't have gotten this far."

Diane DeCree, the Cougars' sophomore center, did her best to keep Kennedy close.

DeCree made 8 of 14 shots and scored 16 points. Her 13 rebounds were a game high.

Pam Kirkwood added 10 points for Locke, while Toni Brown had nine.

Brown made three of four free-throw attempts in the final minute. As a team, Locke made seven of 12 attempts. Kennedy tried just four free throws, making two.

"Nancy was defensed well, but the others did the job," Locke Coach Art Webb said.

The Saints' victory gave them five City titles in the last eight seasons.

Was it special to win without Conwell, Webb was asked?

"Well," he replied, "at least we get to keep the trophy."

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