QUEEN OF POINTS! Kennedy sets ASC scoring milestone

Published 6:00 am Thursday, February 8, 2007

CLINTON — Lacey Kennedy has her basketball career in the rightperspective.

Asked about her record-setting point performance Tuesday night,Kennedy smiled thoughtfully. “I’m more excited about my 20rebounds.”

Kennedy scored 30 points and grabbed a career-high 20 boardslast night, leading the Mississippi College Lady Choctaws to a59-54 comeback victory over Louisiana College. Most importantly,Kennedy eclipsed the American Southwest Conference scoring recordheld by Katherine Otwell of Hardin-Simmons, set during the1997-2000 seasons.

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Otwell’s total of 1,789 points was surpassed early in the game.Kennedy scored her team’s first 3 field goals, the third on abaseline drive with 13:56 left in the first half, giving her thenew record.

MC public address announcer Glenn Waddell proclaimed the moment.”Ladies and gentlemen, we would like to take a moment tocongratulate Mississippi College senior forward Lacey Kennedy.Lacey just passed former Hardin-Simmons standout Katherine Otwellto become the American Southwest Conference’s All-Time leadingscorer with 1,790 points. How about a round of applause.”

The small crowd gathered in A.E. Wood Coliseum gave Kennedy astanding ovation. She was presented the game ball and received ahug from her coach, Paul Allen Duke.

The 5-foot-11 Kennedy resumed play and performed admirably. Sheplayed an exhausting 38 minutes but the final score was arefreshing reward. She went 2-for-2 at the free throw line in thelast 1:44 to cement the win.

Duke’s team is in a major rebuilding year. He only has 2 seniorson the team, Kennedy and fellow high-low post player Natalie Jordanof Waynesboro. Kennedy, the daughter of Sudie and Joe Palomarez, isa graduate of Enterprise here in Lincoln County. She played highschool basketball for Coach Billy Vaughn.

Kennedy averages 22 points and 10 rebounds per game for the LadyChocs, both team bests. She shoots 86 percent from the free throwline and 53 percent from the field.

“If it wasn’t for Lacey, we wouldn’t be as good (14-8, 9-8) aswe are now,” said Duke. “She has an unbelievable work ethic. She isalways striving to get better. She will ask me, ‘Coach, what can Ido to get better?'”

Duke said Kennedy possesses mental and physical toughness. Shesprained her left ankle late in the first half, limped off thefloor to have it taped and returned before halftime.

“I just rolled it (ankle) over pretty bad,” said Kennedy.

After her sophomore season, Kennedy took a year off from school.She married Jason Kennedy, the current boys basketball coach atRaleigh. They have a 2-year-old son, Jay.

“Lacey is a straight-A student,” Duke pointed out. “She’s a goodmother and a good wife. She wears so many different hats. She’s aspecial person to do all that.”

Kennedy’s husband was busy coaching the Raleigh Lions to anothervictory Tuesday night so he missed the milestone. Her grandmother,Bobbie Jordan; and her young son, Jay; were present, plus hersister, Ashley.

Her mother recently returned to Afghanistan where she istraining Afghan highway patrol and border patrol guards. Her fatherlives in Washington but is expected to be present for Saturday’sfinal home game of the season. Her younger sister, Savannah, a highschool senior in Washington, may wind up playing basketball atMC.

Jordan, a 5-11 post player, works in the paint and helps give MCa strong inside game. She scored 13 points last night, several offassists from Kennedy.

“I love playing with Lacey,” said Jordan. “You couldn’t ask fora better offensive player.”

Kennedy’s accomplishments are numerous. She has led MC to 3 ASCEast Division titles. This season opponents have concentrated onslowing the All-American candidate as she carries a young squad,featuring 1 freshman, 2 sophomores, 1 junior and 1 senior in thestarting lineup.

Asked about her free throw shooting accuracy, Kennedy said shethrives on pressure. “I look forward to making free throws at theend of a game. We were happy to pull this one out.”

Duke said he anticipates having Kennedy serve as a graduateassistant at MC next season, allowing her a chance to coachSavannah. Kennedy is a biology major who wants to teach andcoach.

Asked about playing for the energetic Duke who bellows orders tohis team, Kennedy said, “I love playing for Coach Duke. He’s loudand I need that very much.”

Certainly, Duke needs Kennedy in his lineup, too.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O.BOX 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or e-mailsports@dailyleader.com