The John F. Kennedy High School girls’ basketball team trailed for nearly all of its postseason game against Winston Churchill, spending three-and-a-half quarters clawing away at an early 10-point deficit.
But with time winding down in the game, and possibly the season, the “X Factor” took over.
Zjhane West, a do-it-all senior, recorded 13 points, eight rebounds and four steals — two in the last two minutes — leading the Cavaliers (19-3) to a 47-43 victory in the 4A West Section I semifinals Wednesday in Silver Spring.
“The girls will tell you on the team that Zjhane West is our most indispensable player,” said Kennedy coach Kevin Thompson, referring to West as the X Factor. “She can dribble, she can shoot a midrange jump shot, she can drive to the hole and she’s second in our team in assists. She does everything across the board.”
Kennedy is scheduled to play Walt Whitman in the Section I finals Thursday in Bethesda.
“I guess you could say the relationship with my other teammates,” West said. “Just knowing how bad they wanted it, how bad I wanted it. We couldn’t let it be our last game.”
West’s and-one field goal tied the game 43-43 late in the fourth quarter. The forward came away with a steal in the proceeding possession, passed the ball to senior Daysha Adams who found Domoah Kutu-Akoi for the go-ahead bucket — Kennedy’s first lead of the game. West came away with another steal and added an insurance field goal, helping the Cavaliers hold on for the victory.
“It felt good,” West said. “I’m going to lie, it felt good.”
Senior Makeda Wright scored a game-high 15 points, helping Kennedy stay in the game with nine points in the third quarter.
“We had to keep going,” Wright said. “Even though we were down, we stayed together as a family and we always kept our heads up high, and I think that’s why we came out on top at the end.”
Japria Karim-Duvall scored a team-high 11 points and Nicole Brodkowitz added eight for Churchill (14-10), which had won four straight before tonight.
The Vikings (21-2) are on a 20-game winning streak after defeating Montgomery Blair 41-40 in the Section I semifinals. Whitman defeated Kennedy 56-40 on Feb. 21.
“You have to be very disciplined on defense to beat them,” Thompson said. “… They’re a very intriguing team, that’s why they’re so good.”
Kennedy 47, Churchill 43
Churchill 15 9 16 3 — 43
Kennedy 6 12 16 13 — 47
Churchill (14-10): Japria Karim-Duvall 11, Nicole Brodkowitz 8, Alex Votaw 6, Kennedy Gray 5, CoCo Kuchins 5, Katherine Michael 4, Izzy Wu 4.
Kennedy (19-3) — Makeda Wright 15, Zjhane West 13, Domoah Kutu-Akoi 6, Daysha Adams 5, Kiara Arnold 4, Khadijah Pearson 2, Siteri Tale 2.