Kennedy Johnson helped Bishop O'Dowd power past Clovis North to assure a second straight appearance in the CIF NorCal Regional Finals
Scott A Giorgianni

Bishop O'Dowd topples Clovis North to secure regional finals appearance

March 10, 2020

OAKLAND – If you take the first initial of Bishop O’Dowd’s three big offensive threats, you can form the word “ASK.” And if the Dragons’ coaches and fans asked the trio for a championship-level performance, they certainly got it on Saturday afternoon in the CIF NorCal regional semifinal. Amaya Bonner, Skylar McGlockton, and Kennedy Johnson all had terrific performances in a 67-50 win over Clovis North that catapulted O’Dowd into the regional final on Tuesday.

Bonner scored 18 points and had six rebounds, Johnson tallied 16 points, 11 boards, five blocks, and three assists, and McGlockton chipped in 11 points and nine rebounds for defending NorCal champion Bishop O’Dowd (22-7).

The Dragons’ bookended their best quarters, jumping out to a 15-1 advantage and leading 19-10 after one, and then outscoring the Broncos 21-10 in the fourth. In the middle quarters, in fact, Clovis North (24-9) kept pace with the Dragons and nibbled away at the lead.

“The girls were locked in and just feeling good,” O’Dowd coach Malik McCord said. “They’ve been locked in, even with all the stuff going on with Menlo. I’m very proud of our effort, to control they game the way they did. I told the girls, ‘Your celebration was on the floor after the game, now we have to focus on the next opponent.’”

McGlockton did much of her damage, with eight points and five rebounds, in the first quarter; Bonner spearheaded the final frame with 10 of her total; and Johnson dominated throughout. Senior Jenna Kilty, who McCord calls “a starter coming off the bench,” contributed eight points.

The game was tinged with unusual circumstances. O’Dowd was scheduled to face Menlo School on Thursday in the quarterfinal. When relative of an employee of Menlo tested positive for the Coronavirus, the school shut down temporarily and the contest with the Dragons was moved to Friday. Then just a couple of hours before tipoff, Menlo School formally withdrew from the tournament.

“The girls did a good job of flipping their mindset,” McCord added. “Okay, now we’ve got Clovis North. The girls were in their uniforms yesterday, because they just weren’t sure if they were going to play or not. They snapped out of it.”

It was the second meeting between the clubs this season; back in December at the West Coast Jamboree Platinum Division consolation semifinal Clovis North won 65-64 with a last-second bucket after losing an 18-point lead. At the time, each side had injured players, and notably for O’Dowd Johnson was on that list. Referencing the contest in December, which was won on an open layup, Johnson called the semifinal a “redemption game.”

Several key plays that injected extra momentum into the crowd. On one play, Bonner picked up a loose ball, drove the length of the floor, and did a nifty side step to bank in a layup to make it 27-23. On another, Johnson had a block, then saved the rebound while falling out of bounds, starting a fast break that concluded with a jumper by Kaysie Watanabe to give the Dragons a seven-point advantage two minutes into the fourth.

Savannah Tucker led Clovis North with 19 points and four steals, and Laney Amundsen added 16 points. Tucker had a remarkable career as a Bronco, and this year her team fell just shy of a Central Section Open Division championship. Clovis North won 92 games in Tucker’s four years.

“Just the seniors,” a teared-up Clovis North coach Heather Long responded when asked about her immediate reaction. “That initial horn…it goes by so fast. I’m super proud of them. When I took the job they were all fifth graders. We battled back. The kids did everything we asked them to.”

“They came out more prepared,” Tucker stated. “We weren’t able to get a stop, we were taking the first shot down. Once we settled down we were able to get back in it.”

“Everything going on was pretty crazy but we were just ready to play,” Tucker added. “Having…one day of practice and one day of film I’m really proud of the team for turning it around the way they did.”

To visit GameCenter for this game, please click here


Are you a high school student interested in a career in sports journalism? For more information, please click here.