By Joe Davidson
STOCKTON - It wasn't a frantic fight to the finish like last season's showdown of Sac-Joaquin Section girls basketball powers, and that was just fine with a relieved Lynette Johnson.
The Kennedy High School standout senior leader talked this week that for as much dramatics and ecstasy as the 2012 Division I championship game against Oak Ridge, won by her Cougars in double overtime, it was a stress-case affair right to the final horn.
Not the rematch.
A combo guard/forward, Johnson scored 26 points on 10 of 16 shooting, yanked down nine rebounds, had six assists and was a factor as a ball handler and with leadership to key a 65-42 triumph of Oak Ridge in a semifinal at University of the Pacific.
Emerging post Dalayna Tyler-Scott had 16 inside points for the Cougars, ranked third by The Bee most of the season. Oak Ridge was ranked second entering the postseason. Both advance to the NorCal Regional playoffs that start next week.
First, Kennedy targets its sixth section championship in nine title appearances, all since 2001.
"Ok, so this wasn't (ITAL) as (ITAL) fun as last year, but it was a great win and we played well," said the charismatic Johnson, headed to Utah State on scholarship. "This was by far our best game. We did everything we practiced on. We're a family, and our chemistry has definitely evolved."
It's a staple for Dave Parsh-coached teams to share the ball, to hustle on defense and to make longp-range shots, and that played out for Kennedy, which now takes on national power St. Mary's of Stockton on Saturday for the title at Sleep Train Arena. The Rams ripped Armijo 94-61 in the other semifinal and now seek their 13th championship at
various levels since 1999.
Jessica Lauderdale scored eight points and had six assists for Kennedy (24-5). Jenn Hoffman led Oak Ridge (25-4) with 10 points. The Trojans shot 34 percent and were outrebounded 33-19.
With Johnson leading the charge, Parsh likes his chances against St. Mary's. The support crew for Johnson has been superb all season, particularly in the playoffs. They include Lauderdale, Arica Ng, Katie Lee and Sidney Owen.
"She's a dynamite player," Parsh said of Johnson. "She's very poised and skilled."
Johnson said confidence is key against the Rams.
"We have to give them a challenge," she said. "A lot of teams go in intimidated against them. Can't do that."
Bee photo by Jose Luis Villegas: Kennedy's Lynette Johnson drives to the basket in the fourth quarter Kennedy's 65 to 42 victory over Oak Ridge in Thursday nights D-I semifinals between Kennedy and Oak Ridge High School on February 28, 2013 at the Spanos Center in Stockton, California.