NMCC's Rashaunda Summers chases after Kennett's Kaytlyn Parker (right). [Order this photo]
STEELE, Mo. - For the first time since 2008 a new champion will be crowned at the 8-team Lady Bulldogs Classic.
The top-seeded New Madrid County Central Lady Eagles cruised to a 60-23 win against the fifth-seeded Kennett Lady Indians Tuesday afternoon in a championship semifinal contest at the tournament.
Kennett, which had won the tournament each of the last three seasons and collected a 44-38 upset-victory against fourth-seeded Senath-Hornersville in a quarterfinal game Monday, committed 32 turnovers against New Madrid County Central Tuesday.
"I really didn't feel like we had our 'A' game here tonight," Kennett coach Rod Baxter said. "I didn't feel like our girls were prepared early on for the physical part of the game and that's on me. I'm the head coach. I know we didn't have practice time to prepare for this game, but still we should have had a better showing the first quarter and a half.
"We got some bumps and bruises and had people who had to change positions tonight," Baxter continued. "But that's part of the game. Things that happen in a game happen and sometimes you have to deal with those."
The Lady Eagles scored the first 18 points of the game to take an 18-0 lead with 3:30 left in the first quarter. Kennett's Kenna Hounihan broke the scoring drought when she knocked down a free-throw with 3:10 left in the first period to cut the deficit to 18-1. Lara Abmeyer collected Kennett's first goal with four seconds left in the first period to trim the deficit to 14 points at 18-4.
New Madrid County Central scored the first 24 points of the second quarter to increase its lead to 42-4 with 2:33 left in the first half. Kennett's Courtney McElhaney collected a two-point field goal and the Lady Indians' Darby Sparks knocked down a 3-pointer in the final two minutes of the first half.
New Madrid County Central led the contest 46-9 at halftime.
"I didn't think we came out with much intensity last night," New Madrid County Central coach David Crockett said. "I challenged our players to come out and play hard in the first half. Kennett's a big rivalry for us and has been for the past few years. I don't know if we could execute any better the first half. The intensity on the defensive end was there and offensively we got the looks we wanted inside."
Kennett's offense finally heated up in the third quarter when five players calculated points. The Lady Indians outscored the Lady Eagles 12-10 in the third period to trim New Madrid County Central's lead to 56-21 entering the fourth quarter.
"I did feel like even though they did change personnel in the third quarter our girls played with a little more resolve the second half," Baxter said. "At some point in time you have to take a step back and say 'we may not be able to win this battle today.' I didn't think we were going to win the battle and we played a lot of people. We will continue to do that all year long."
There was a running clock the entire fourth period because New Madrid County Central led the contest by more than 30.
New Madrid County Central had three players calculate double-digit scoring totals. Karen McGloson tallied a team-high 22 points for the Lady Eagles. Benesha Childress added 20 points and Rashaunda Summers scored 10 points.
"Karen and Benesha are going to get scoring inside," Crockett said. "They can easily score 20. We've got to have everyone else around them helping out and getting a few points here and there because two people cannot beat a team. That has been proven in the past. So we've got to have those role players knock down shots. Tonight they did that."
Kennett had eight players score. Logan Vaughan led the Lady Indians in scoring with five points.
"I really felt like in all phases of the game we just did not compete at the level we are capable of competing at," Baxter said. "I do feel like that is to the credit of our opponent. We weren't getting shots out of our offensive sets because we weren't completing our offensive sets because they were disrupting us. The girls didn't recover well enough to get what I call 'shots out of our offense.' We had some scoring in a couple of slots early in the third quarter, but they ran the offense well at that time. We scored when we did it right. It may take time for them to adapt to a new coach and what we are trying to do offensively."
Kennett will play for third-place Friday at 4 p.m. against third-seeded Portageville.
"I don't feel like our girls felt like they were a No. 5 seed," Baxter said. "We can probably come back with a little grit Friday in the next contest and say 'hey we are not the No. 5 seeded team.' We are going to play a higher level team, probably. So what we are going to do is try to come over here with our 'A' game, see if we can recover from tonight's bruises and give a good showing."
New Madrid County Central will play No. 2 seeded South Pemiscot in the championship Friday at 7 p.m.
"We are not satisfied just making it to the championship game," Crockett said. "We've been there before and we want to win it. We were the No. 1 seed last season and took second. Hopefully, we will play as well as we did tonight and walk away with a title."
Note: All Friday games will be played at the South Pemiscot High School Gymnasium.
Kennett's Anna Kay Hilburn (right) eyes a trey. [Order this photo]
KHS 4 5 12 2 -23
NMC 18 28 10 4 - 60
KENNETT (23) - Anna Kay Hilburn 3, Darby Sparks 3, Logan Vaughan 5, Lara Abmeyer 3, Kenna Hounihan 3, Mary Callaway 2, Courtney McElhaney 2, Daqueshia Duckworth 2. FG 8, FT 5/13, F 10. (3-pointers: Sparks 1, Hilburn 1. Fouled out: none)
NEW MADRID COUNTY CENTRAL (60) - Keisha Rainer 2, Whitney Williams 2, Aqwanness Johnson 2, Benesha Childress 20, Karen McGloson 22, Rashaunda Summers 10, Octavia Smith 2. FG 27, FT 5/9, F 14. (3-pointers: Summers 1. Fouled out: none)
No. 2 South Pemiscot 73, No. 3 Portageville 52
South Pemiscot's No. 3 Leslie Dent defends Portageville's Deasha Simmons without fouling. [Order this photo]
"I thought we played pretty well defensively," South Pemiscot coach Nick Nealey said. "We made them make about 90 trips down the floor.
"Offensively I wasn't too happy," Nealey continued. "I thought we were out of control most of the night, but our kids found a way to attack the rim, which is what we preach in practice."
South Pemiscot placed three players in double digits. Carrie Shepherd led all scores with 33 points for South Pemiscot. Alisha Campbell added 16 points and Leslie Dent scored 12.
Portageville was led in scoring by Jennifer Ifland who tallied 16 points.
South Pemiscot will take on New Madrid County Central in Friday night's title game at 7 p.m. Both programs won district titles last season.
"Coach Crockett does a really good job," Nealey said of the championship. "New Madrid will be extremely physical and rebound the ball well. They've got two or three really great players and a pretty good program. We are going to kind of use it as a measuring stick as far where we are at right now in the season. We look to try to come out and compete with them."
PHS 11 13 15 13 - 52
SPS 26 13 12 22 - 73
PORTAGEVILLE (52) - Jill Kellams 4, Jennifer Ifland 16, Taylor McCoy 12, Danielle Morgan 4, Teonna Ray 4, Deasha Simmons 3, Jelisha Minnis 9. FG 22, FT 8/20, F 15. (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: none)
SOUTH PEMISCOT (73) - Leslie Dent 12, Carrie Shepherd 33, Madison Hensley 2, Alisha Campbell 16, Takenya Houston 8, Micheala Mays 2. FG 29, FT 11/15, F 17. (3-pointers: Dent 2, Shepherd 2. Fouled out: none)
Tuesday's Girls Consolation Semifinals:
No. 5 Senath-Hornersville 78, No. 8 Caruthersville 24
No. 7 Campbell 35, No. 6 Malden 19
Thursday's Consolation Schedule:
Girls Seventh Place Game: Caruthersville vs. Malden, 4 p.m.
Girls Consolation Final: Senath-Hornersville vs. Campbell, 7 p.m.