El Camino Real High forward Brent Lofton did everything he could against Kennedy, the Valley's only undefeated team two months into the season. Lofton scored (30 points), rebounded (10) and played aggressive defense (4 blocked shots).
But in the Valley League contest, his heroics meant no more than a big game statistically as Kennedy jumped to a 40-23 halftime lead, then thumped host El Camino Real, 81-56.
The Conquistadores (3-7, 2-1 in league play) lost their fifth consecutive game; Kennedy is off to its best start at 10-0, 2-0 in league play. Lofton, however, thought his team could beat the Golden Cougars.
"They're good, but we could beat them if we start to play better early in the game," he said. "We just got behind early and couldn't get any momentum. I certainly couldn't get anything started."
The 6-5 Lofton, who averages 19 points a game, missed 5 of 6 shots in the first quarter as the Conquistadores fell behind, 15-5. El Camino Real made only 2 of 15 shots in the opening quarter and only 19 of 56 in the game (31%).
Kennedy opened the second-quarter with a 13-3 run for a 28-9 lead with 4 1/2 minutes remaining in the half. Uba Satterfield made a three-pointer and a jumper from the corner during the surge.
Randy Brown came off the bench to score nine points in the second quarter, making all five free throws and the two field goals he attempted as the Golden Cougars expanded their lead to 17 at the half.
After his tepid start, Lofton warmed up in the second half, hitting 8 of 10 from the field on a variety of inside moves and jump shots.
However, only two other teammates made baskets and none scored in double figures.
Meanwhile, four players scored in double figures for Kennedy, ranked third in The Times Valley poll, and the Golden Cougars shot 42% from the field.
Kennedy was led by Satterfield, who scored a season-high 30 points in the championship game of the Palisades tournament last week and continued to have the hot hand, connecting on 3 of 4 three-point attempts en route to 19 points.
He was followed by Clarence Williams with 16 and Leon Ware and Brown, who each scored 12.
"Defense is the key to our season," said Williams, who had eight rebounds. "We got a lot of steals today, but other parts of our game were slacking, like rebounding."
Williams, the team captain, did not have to be reminded about his poor free-throw shooting, either. A major facet of the 6-5, 220-pound senior's game is drawing fouls inside the key, but he made only 5 of 12 free throws.
El Camino Real guard Damon Orlando, the team's second-leading scorer with a 12.6 average before being suspended indefinitely for shouting profanity at Coach Mike McNulty during a recent game, sat behind the bench and talked to teammates after the game.
"Sure we could use him against Cleveland and Taft," Lofton said, referring to the team's next league opponents. "But his attitude usually messes up the team. He's had problems before, been kicked off the team and come back. If he comes back, I think he'll learn a lesson because he's missed about five games now."