Kennett's Kate Shetley (pictured with ball) makes her way to the basket in the first half Monday at South Pemiscot Multi-Purpose Facility. [Order this photo]
Kennett, which is the three-time defending champion of the 8-team varsity Lady Bulldogs Classic, advances to today's championship semifinals with Monday's win.
"We just talked to the girls about time and score," Kennett coach Rod Baxter said of the halftime speech. "In the first game of the year I think it is crucial to take care of possessions. We emphasized at halftime the first three minutes of the second half are crucial in any ball game. But in this game it was likely going to be the difference."
Senath-Hornersville had a similar run to start the first half. The Lady Lions pressed Kennett at the start of the game and jumped out to an early 6-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
"It wasn't bad," Senath-Hornersville coach Jamie Johnson said of the press. "It was kind of a containment press and it slowed them down a little bit. The problem was we couldn't get the steals we needed out of that press or get fouls and get our girls to the line. I thought Kennett handled the press OK and that's all right. It's early."
Kennett rallied to take its first lead at 11-9 with 2:12 left in the first quarter. Neither team led by more than four in the second quarter. The Lady Indians largest lead of the game was 42-30 with 1:10 left in regulation and Senath-Hornersville's largest lead was 6-0 and 8-2 in the first period.
"I thought it was a good game," Johnson said. "I didn't think we hit any shots tonight. We came out kind of cold against them and missed shots we would normally hit on a given night. When you do that against good teams you come up short. I thought our intensity picked up in the second half, but by that time it was kind of at hand and just didn't go our way."
10 players scored for Kennett. No Kennett player calculated a double-digit scoring total. Kenna Hounihan led the Lady Indians in scoring with eight points.
"That's what I want," Baxter said of the balanced scoring. "I feel like we have a great deal of skilled players. We are two or three deep at a number of positions, which is a coach's dream. We are not physically big, but our girls have big hearts. We have to play a lot of people and keep players fresh. It's not about who starts for us. It's about we can play a lot of people and I think we will go 10 or 11 deep in most games.
"I thought Anna Kay Hilburn gave us really good senior leadership tonight," Baxter continued. "We also had a really solid game out of Jenny Lockhert, who hasn't played basketball for a long time. She was a volleyball player that wanted to play basketball and has never missed a practice."
The Lady Lions outscored Kennett 8-2 in the final 70 seconds of the fourth quarter, but Kennett never relinquished the lead.
Baxter was pleased with how his team controlled the game after moving ahead.
"That's how I coach," Baxter said. "I like for them to understand there is a time to push the ball and take advantage and there is a time to slow it down. If you can race all the time it is great, but if you cannot you have to pick your spots. We picked our spots in the second half and rode the seven-point spread until the end. I know it got close in the end. It was my decision to make the substitutions with two minutes left. I was OK with it. I'm sure the fans were not, but I was OK with it."
The Lady Lions had six players score. Rachel Tom led all scorers with 17 points for Senath-Hornersville. Taylor Clifton added eight and Briana Kempf scored seven.
Senath-Hornersville (1-1) will take on eighth-seeded Caruthersville Tuesday at 4 p.m. in a consolation semifinal at the tournament. Caruthersville suffered a 69-9 loss to top-seeded New Madrid County Central in its quarterfinal game Monday.
"Right now it's about what we do," Johnson said of Tuesday's scheduled showdown. "We'll come in and play hard. We will see what happens and just keep working to get better every day. It doesn't matter who we play right now. I don't care who we play."
Kennett will take on New Madrid County Central in a championship semifinal Tuesday at 4 p.m.
The Kennett-New Madrid County Central game will be played at the South Pemiscot High School Gymnasium and the Senath-Hornersville-Caruthersville game will be played at South Pemiscot Multi-Purpose Facility.
"I don't think there is any preparation involved," Baxter said. "I think it's come, do what you've done in practice and put it out there on the floor. They are going to be very physical. We are probably not, so we will see how that plays out. I think we will be quicker than them at all five positions. We may not be quicker than them at every position, but our group is pretty fast when they play together."
No. 5 Kennett 44, No. 4 Senath-Hornersville 38
KHS 13 9 10 12 - 44
SHS 11 11 3 13 - 38
KENNETT (44) - Jenny Lockhert 6, Kaytlyn Parker 5, Darby Sparks 6, Logan Vaughan 4, Anna Kay Hilburn 5, Lara Abmeyer 2, Rausheda Rose 2, Kenna Hounihan 8, Kate Shetley 4, Sara Sibenhuener 2. FG 18, FT 7/14, F 17. (3-pointers: Hilburn 1. Fouled out: none)
SENATH-HORNERSVILLE (38) - Taylor Clifton 8, Rachel Tom 17, MaKenzie Cantrell 2, Briana Kempf 7, Kenna Crawford 2, Tori Brown 2. FG 15, FT 8/17, F 9. (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: none)