Kennett's No. 25 Kate Shetley looks on as Kennett's Kenna Hounihan is defended by Doniphan's No. 10 Megan Hipps. [Order this photo]
KENNETT, Mo. - Kennett coach Rod Baxter informed Doniphan coach Erika Smith he expected a single-digit final before Friday night's Kennett-Doniphan varsity girls basketball contest ever got underway.
"I felt like the game was going to be a five or six point game," Baxter said. "I told the Doniphan coach that pregame. Of course I wanted it to be five or six to Kennett's edge."
Baxter was right.
It came down to the wire.
Doniphan led the contest 45-44 with two minutes remaining in regulation after overcoming a 27-22 halftime deficit.
Doniphan's lead quickly swelled to eight at 52-44 in the final two minutes as Kennett experienced a rare two-minute scoring drought.
The scoring drought ended in the final five seconds when the Lady Indians' Kenna Hounihan recorded her fifth field goal of the fourth quarter, but Doniphan held on for a 52-46 victory.
"I'm so proud of my girls," Smith said. "I want my team to play defense and be known for that. We did that down the stretch tonight"
Kennett fell behind 10-2 less than four minutes into the game.
"I think it is abundantly obvious to me I didn't have the girls prepared for the pressure Doniphan applies," Baxter said. "We didn't get good offensive sets tonight. That's got to come back on the head coach. I've got to do a better job of preparing them to face pressure. We had more turnovers than we normally have and didn't get really clean looks at the basket. Credit Doniphan for that, but we can be better than we played tonight."
Kennett quickly erased the eight-point deficit. The Lady Indians outscored Doniphan 9-2 in the final four minutes of the first period to trim the margin to 12-11 by the start of the second period.
The second quarter proved to the best quarter offensively for Kennett as it calculated 16 points. The second quarter was the worst scoring quarter for Doniphan as it managed only 10 points and trailed Kennett by five at halftime.
"We roller coastered early," Baxter said. "The girls had talked me a lot about last season and I think they felt pressure to attack Doniphan early. I don't think we were successful with that mindset. It wasn't good for us. We settled in the second quarter and ran our stuff."
Doniphan won the third quarter by six points after losing the second quarter by six. Carrie Rogers accounted for eight of Doniphan's 12 third-quarter points and finished with a team-high 18 points.
"We have to play all four quarters," Smith said. "We cannot just play half of a game. We are trying to get them to play all four quarters. We came out on fire early and may have surprised them. Then they started pressuring us and we didn't handle it like we needed to. Offensively, we've got a long way to go."
Kennett started the final quarter on a 5-0 run to take a 38-34 lead with 6:18 remaining. Doniphan scored the next seven points to move ahead 41-38 with 4:10 remaining and never trailed after.
"At the end I thought the fatigue factor climbed up our back," Baxter said. "This is not an excuse, but we played three games this week. I saw fatigue early in our game. We had some mental fatigue and physical fatigue. We had girls that were not on their game tonight. I'm going to blame it on lack of preparation to face their defensive pressure and fatigue."
Hounihan scored 10 of her 18 points in the fourth quarter. She led Kennett in scoring.
"We made a coaching decision we thought we could isolate her on the back side and get her to the rim," Baxter said of Hounihan's fourth-quarter execution. "That was the game plan. You always second guess yourself and we might have started that a little bit late."
Kalli Hill tallied 15 points for Doniphan.
Kennett won a two-quarter junior varsity contest against Doniphan 19-15.
Doniphan (4-0) will look to remain perfect Monday when it takes on Puxico.
"We got seeded No. 8 today at the Lady Royals Classic and Kennett was seeded No. 7," Smith said. "I'm preaching to my girls to send a message to teams that we are not a No. 8 seed."
Kennett can improve to 3-0 in regular-season Bootheel Conference play with a victory at Hayti Monday.
Kennett's Anna Kay Hilburn pushes the ball past Doniphan's Brittney Ritter. [Order this photo]
Doniphan 52, Kennett 46
KHS 11 16 6 13 - 46
DHS 12 10 12 18 - 52
KENNETT (46) - Jenny Lockhert 3, Darby Sparks 4, Anna Kay Hilburn 7, Lara Abmeyer 5, Kenna Hounihan 18, Kate Shetley 5, Mary Callaway 2, Courtney McElhaney 2. FG 18, FT 7/15, F 23. (3-pointers: Hilburn 1, Abmeyer 1, Shetley 1. Fouled out: none)
DONIPHAN (52) - Carrie Rogers 18, Megan Hipps 6, Kelsey Teegarden 3, Brittney Ritter 6, Kalli Hill 15. Sinora Morhmann 4. FG 21, FT 9/22, F 17. (3-pointers: Rogers 1. Fouled out: none)