The 6-foot-5 swingman had taken a vicious tumble early in the third quarter of Friday’s Maryland 4A South region final against Wise after bouncing off an illegal screen. He landed hard on his left elbow and stayed down for several minutes.
But Kendley shook off the pain just in time, scoring 10 of his 12 points in the final quarter of fifth-ranked Eleanor Roosevelt’s 56-55 victory over the Pumas in Greenbelt.
With their fourth straight region crown and sixth in eight seasons, the Raiders advance to play Maryland 4A East champ North Point in a Thursday state semifinal at Comcast Center, a rematch from last season won by Eleanor Roosevelt.
“I was mad,” Kendley said. “I just wanted to get back in the game and just dominate.”
In its eighth straight region final appearance, Eleanor Roosevelt (25-1) scored the game’s first seven points and held an 11-point advantage early in the second quarter before Wise (19-6) clawed back.
Behind Kendley, Eleanor Roosevelt pulled ahead in the final quarter and hung on through some shaky free throw shooting, hitting just 4 of 13 attempts in the final 2 minutes 9 seconds.
The Raiders led by as many as five points in the final minute, and senior Trevor Evans nailed one of two free throws with six seconds left to give them a 56-52 lead.
Although Wise senior D.J. Nedab nailed a quick three-pointer on the other end, the final two seconds ran off the game clock because the Pumas (19-6) were out of timeouts.
Both games between the teams were decided by a point with the Raiders also winning, 63-62, on Dec. 18.
“We were just a little careless with the ball on some of those possessions there at the end,” Wise Coach Rob Garner said. “You’ve got to play perfect basketball to win in the region final.”
Senior Malachi Alexander carried Eleanor Roosevelt early and finished with 18 points and nine rebounds, but Kendley’s late production proved the difference. Once he returned from the bruised elbow, he accounted for all four of the team’s field goals in the fourth quarter.
Kendley had three dunks, including one off an alley-oop from Evans in the third quarter, and his three-pointer with 5:17 left in the game put the Raiders ahead for good at 48-47.
“He makes so many plays with his defense and his energy, and I thought he did that tonight,” Eleanor Roosevelt Coach Brendan O’Connell said of Kendley. “Big plays in transition and on defense usually get him going.”