Before Kennedy Smith ever slipped on an Etiwanda High School jersey, she had an intimate understanding of how the program operates.
Smith and her mother, Monica, attended Eagles home games when she was in middle school. From her seat opposite the Etiwanda bench, Smith watched as program heroes like guards Da’Ja Hamilton (Nevada), Evanne Turner (UC Davis) and others pushed the Eagles to the top of California’s open division.
Now Smith, a sophomore power forward, is carrying on their legacy for Etiwanda, the No. 5-slotted team in JWS’ national rankings. She displayed the full spectrum of her scoring abilities in a 91-26 win over Chino Hills on Jan. 28, tying a program record with 44 points. She followed that up with two more stellar performances — 18 points and 12 rebounds in a win over Bonita Vista, and 19 points in a victory against Rancho Cucamonga — en route to earning JWS Player of the Week honors.
“In my 22 years (of coaching), she’s one of the most intense players I’ve ever coached,” Etiwanda coach Stan Delus said. “She’s all about getting the job done. All about playing the game the right way.”
Not only can Smith score in the post, Delus said, leveraging her 6-foot-1 frame against smaller defenders, but she can shoot it from long-range, too. She also has the ball skills to distribute and can comfortably defend positions 1 through 5.
That skill set often leaves opponents flummoxed, and helps explain why Etiwanda was unbeaten headed into the final two games of the regular season.
only the beginning!❤️ pic.twitter.com/lTJD7KOBff— kennedy•smith🦋 (@k3nnedynicole) January 27, 2022
only the beginning!❤️ pic.twitter.com/lTJD7KOBff
Never has Smith’s talent been on display like it was Jan. 28, though. Smith also recorded 11 rebounds and three assists in the blowout win, but it was her scoring that sent a ripple through the California basketball scene.
Once Smith reached 32 points with about three minutes left in the third quarter, Delus said, teammates started pushing her to go for the record, set last year by shooting guard Jaiya Mix, now a junior. Smith kept on pushing, but by the final minute she was stuck at 41 points. Then, with three seconds remaining, she pulled up from long range. Swoosh.
“I was going to take her out,” Delus said. “Everyone was like, ‘Let her see if she can try.’”
So Delus obliged, and Smith left her mark on the Etiwanda history books. It probably won’t be for the last time.
Josh Needelman is the High School Sports Editor at Just Women’s Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JoshNeedelman.