PENDLETON — Down by as many as 14 points in the first half, Monroe High mounted a comeback but the Dragons’ quest for a second straight 2A girls basketball state title ended on Saturday at the hands of Kennedy.
The Trojans, who wrapped up a 29-1 campaign, knocked off the Dragons for a third time this season with a 53-41 victory in the state title game at the Pendleton Convention Center.
The Dragons finish the season 26-4; the only other team to beat them was Oakland in a Mountain View Conference playoff game.
Kennedy captured its second title in three years.
Peyton Greene and Madison Ballard each finished with 12 points for the Dragons, while Cameron Knaggs had eight off the bench.
Kaylin Cantu had 12 points and Sophia Carley chipped in 11 points and 10 rebounds for Kennedy.
Down 14 early in the third quarter, Knaggs, a senior, drained two 3s to get the Dragons within 32-24 with 5:38 left and force a timeout.
Green’s bucket capped an 8-0 run and cut the Monroe deficit to 32-26. After a Kennedy basket, Ballard drained a 3 and suddenly the Dragons were down just five at 34-29 midway through the third.
The Dragons made it a one-possession game twice – the last time at 36-33 – but that was as close as they would get as Kennedy was able to push its lead to 40-33 with a 4-0 run in the final minute.
Sophia Carly scored Kennedy’s first seven points in the fourth and the Trojans defense shut down Monroe to push the lead back to double figures.
The Dragons went 7 minutes, 21 seconds without a field goal as the deficit grew to as many as 15 during that stretch.
Monroe was just 15 for 49 from the field while Kennedy was 18 for 39.
Monroe led 5-4 before the Trojans slowly began to take control. A Kaylee Brown 3 at the buzzer capped an 11-2 run and helped Kennedy take a 15-7 lead after one quarter.
The Dragons got to within 15-11 before Kennedy answered with 10 straight for a 25-11 lead.
Kyndal Martin’s 3 and two free throws cut the deficit to 25-16 with just over a minute left in the half.
But Brown did it again, hitting another 3 in the closing seconds to give Kennedy a 30-18 lead at the break.
The Trojans were a sensational 11 for 19 from the field in the first half while the Dragons were just 7 for 21.
Green, who had 21 points in the quarterfinals and 19 in the semifinal win over St. Paul on Saturday, had just six at the half. She was 3 for 6 from the field but the rest of the Dragons were only 4 for 15.