And as Deeley put it after Monday evening's 58-47 NVL semifinal win over St. Paul at Kennedy High School's Jack Taglia Gymnasium, the Eagles are reaping the benefits.
|Kennedy's Lynadia Whiting plays defense against|
St. Paul's Lizzy Cretella in a matchup of All-NVL players.
"As I told my kids, it's not how you play at the beginning of the season, it's how you play at the end," Deeley said.
The Eagles are a tough, intense team, and they showed it throughout Monday's matchup against the Falcons, who had lost just once all season.
Whiting's 3-pointer with 2:17 left in the first half gave Kennedy the lead for good at 22-21. Whiting had seven second quarter points as the Eagles built at 24-23 halftime lead. Prather got Kennedy off to a solid start with all eight of her first half points coming in the first quarter. The big sophomore was a big pain for St. Paul all night on the backboards.
"I just wanted to win, in all honesty," Prather said modestly afterward.
Deeley heaped some praise on Prather.
|Kennedy's Destiny Prather (33) had a huge game for her team.|
"She's by far the most improved player," Deeley said.
St. Paul head coach Joe Mone saw a Kennedy team that wanted it a little more than his bunch did.
"If you're not gonna rebound and defend, you might as well go home," Mone said.
Senior Lizzy Cretella led the Falcons with 18 points while fellow senior Lizzy Ferraro added 14. Senior Emily Sklenka contributed eight points for St. Paul.
Once the Eagles opened up a bigger second half lead, the Falcons never got closer than seven points (35-42 on a Alexa Morneault 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter).
Next up for Kennedy is top-seeded Holy Cross in the final. St. Paul awaits its seeding in the Class M state tournament.