Malden's No 4. Dajuan Criglar and No. 3 Malik Perkins chase after Kennett's Harold Weeden in the second half Tuesday night. [Order this photo]
KENNETT, Mo. - Midway into the third quarter Tuesday night the Kennett Indians varsity boys basketball team looked like it might be well on its way to a second straight overtime game against a Bootheel Conference opponent.
Kennett, which defeated Caruthersville 80-74 in overtime in its conference opener on Dec. 4, led the Malden Green Wave by just one point at 37-36 with 4:33 remaining in the third quarter Tuesday night.
The Indians' lead grew rapidly after.
Kennett's lead increased to seven by the end of the third period before it outscored Malden 25-14 in the fourth quarter. The Indians never led by less than 10 after taking a 52-42 lead with 7:40 remaining in regulation.
The strong finish helped Kennett collect a double-digit 74-56 win against Malden and improve to 2-0 in regular-season Bootheel Conference play.
"I thought the third and fourth in general," Kennett coach Jim Vaughan said, when asked what part of the game his team played best. "We didn't pull away in the third as much as in the fourth, but I thought we did things right. That kind of led us into a good spurted fourth quarter with good defensive possessions that led us to easier offensive possessions. We attacked the pressure a lot better in the fourth quarter and started correcting the way we attacked it in the third quarter."
Neither team led by more than 10 until Kennett took a 56-45 lead with 5:55 remaining in regulation. Malden led 12-10 after the first quarter and trailed 33-25 at halftime.
"We were doing things right," Malden coach Yevgeny Sokolov said. "We were playing our game at the start. I think it helped for the Mitchell kid to be out in the first quarter after the dunk. When he came back in we were still in the game, however. It got away from us in the fourth quarter and we started playing something you couldn't even call 'the game.' There was no defense or blocking out in the fourth quarter. There were a lot of missed lay-ups in the fourth quarter. You take your pick."
Kennett recorded back-to-back field goals in the first 90 seconds of the game to jump out to an early 6-0 lead. Malden limited Kennett to two 2-point field goals the final six minutes of the first quarter.
"Our first two defensive possessions resulted in Malden turnovers," Vaughan said. "Then they went to a timeout and adjusted. We made two shots right away and got momentum. Then we had a silly play and had to play different personnel for a little bit. I thought we sustained OK in the first half, and it was a struggle. I did like the way we finished the game on a positive note after struggling the first half."
Kennett committed 16 of its 22 turnovers in the first half.
"Defensively the press worked," Sokolov said of defending Kennett. "After a while they got used to it and it was a little more difficult. We couldn't match up with them man-to-man. That's what killed us defensively."
All 22 of Malden's field goals were 2-pointers. Kennett knocked down 27 2-pointers and five 3-pointers.
"I just told the kids 'I thought we had a good four days of practice working on staying in front of the basketball coming into this game and we were as bad as I've seen us all year tonight,'" Vaughan said. "We got split, the ball got by us and they got to the rim consistently. We took chances on steals we weren't in position to make because we weren't there early. That led to lay-ups on Malden's next pass. We better go back and work on that because Portageville has got kids that can put it on the deck and get buy us."
Both teams had three players finish with double-digit scoring totals.
Malden was led in scoring by Romello McCoy who calculated 21 points. Malik Perkins added 14 points and Cortez Dobbins scored 13 for the Green Wave.
"Lay-ups were real easy to get," Sokolov said of his team's offensive production. "If the guys would just drive to the hole and space the floor out. Lack of running the offense well killed us late. The guys didn't want to run the offense right, but they've still got time to learn."
Kevonte Mitchell paced Kennett with 24 points despite a pregame injury.
"Kevonte got in better attack mode as the game went on," Vaughan said. "He kind of got banged in the tailbone in pregame and wasn't feeling great coming in, but he did what he does for us and got to the basket. He finally got a three to go. He was mad at me for taking him out because he was finally feeling it at the end, but it was good for him to see that go. I know it was a relief to him because it was the first one he knocked down. There are going to be a lot more to come from him."
Antavies Drake scored in every quarter on his way to a 16-point night for Kennett.
"I thought Antavies played one of his better games tonight in terms of running our team and he scored for us tonight," Vaughan said. "He scored tough sometimes and did a good job from the point tonight about getting us in the right offensive positions. He made decisions on when to go and when not to go, which has been a point of emphasis for him."
Antonio Primer finished third in scoring for Kennett with 15 points. Five other players recorded at least one field goal for the Indians.
"We will just keep expecting more and even better out of those guys," Vaughan said. "We will also keep finding ways to get other guys in the scoring column. Other guys are going to step up for us and have already proven they can. It is a good situation for us right now because we've got a lot of guys who can stick the ball in the hole and a couple you really have to concentrate on."
Mitchell had eight rebounds, five assists and five steals. Drake tallied five rebounds, six assists and three steals.
Malden currently has a 3-3 record. Malden beat Gideon 54-30, beat Chaffee 67-57 and defeated Campbell 82-50. The Green Wave suffered a 91-67 loss to Scott County Central and 82-63 loss to Oran.
Malden returns to action Friday when it plays at South Pemiscot.
"Coach Bidewell has done a good job over at South Pemiscot so it will be a tough game," Sokolov said. "We finish up before Christmas with South Pemiscot and New Madrid County Central on the road before we host Caruthersville. It will probably be one of the toughest stretches of the season, but hopefully we tough it out and get a couple of wins."
Kennett has won its last three games to improve its record to 4-2. Kennett has defeated Pine Bluff, Ark., 71-70; Crowley's Ridge Academy, Ark., 65-42; and Caruthersville 80-74. Kennett suffered a 74-53 loss to West Memphis, Ark., and lost 70-64 to Valley View, Ark.
Kennett can improve to 3-0 in Bootheel Conference regular-season play with a victory at Portageville Friday.
"The last thing we talked about in the lockerroom is how we've got to prepare the next two days," Vaughan said. "This is our last year in the Bootheel Conference and we want to win this thing this year. I want our kids to go out on top the last time our school is in this conference. It's huge for that reason and plus the Bloomfield seedings are this Saturday. If we would have seeded last Saturday I would have had no idea how to seed it. It's crazy right now in terms of records, who has beaten who and what you thought would happen going into the year. That makes Friday's game real important.
"I told my kids 'if we can go in and get a win I think that definitely solidifies our case a little bit,'" Vaughan added. "But if we go in there and come out flat like we did tonight early and give Portageville some momentum we could come out of there with a loss. I don't know where that would put us in the seedings, so it's a huge game for positioning in the conference and the Bloomfield Tournament."
Malden's Romello McCoy is guarded by Kennett's Materion Jones. [Order this photo]
MHS 12 13 17 14 - 56
KHS 10 23 16 25 - 74
MALDEN (56) - Malik Perkins 14, Dajuan Criglar 2, Gunner Jones 2, Jeremy Jones 2, Edwin Hale 2, Cortez Dobbins 13, Romello McCoy 21. FG 22, FT 12/22, F 11. (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: none)
KENNETT (74) - Antavies Drake 16, Akeem Nelson 4, Collin Smith 4, Kevonte Mitchell 24, Harold Weeden 5, Antonio Primer 15, Materion Jones 4, Divante Taylor 2. FG 32, FT 5/11, F 17. (3-pointers: Drake 2, Mitchell 1, Weeden 1, Primer 1. Fouled out: none)
Malden's Dajuan Criglar completes a pass over the top of Kennett's Harold Weeden. [Order this photo]
Kennett's Landon Vaughan drives the ball to the basket in the JV game. [Order this photo]
KENNETT, Mo. - Kennett won the junior varsity contest against Malden 41-38. Andre Oliver paced Kennett with 18 points. Alejandro Gordon scored 13 points for Malden and Zachary Gray added 10 more for the Green Wave.
Kennett and Malden both hit 17 field goals and made four free throws in the junior varsity game. Three of Kennett's 17 field were treys. Landon Vaughan hit two 3-pointers for Kennett and Fred Gooden tallied the other one.
Junior Varsity Boys: Kennett 41, Malden 38
MHS 6 12 10 10 - 38
KHS 9 11 13 8 - 41
KENNETT (41) - Carlos Turner 4, Fred Gooden 5, Malik Wallace 4, Michael Richmond 2, Andre Oliver 18, Landon Vaughan 6, Nathon Spence 2. FG 17, FT 4/11, F 10. (3-pointers: Vaughan 2, Gooden 1. Fouled out: none)
MALDEN (38) - Chauncey McBride 1, Dishon Ross 2, Alejandro Gordon 13, Orlandis Farr 2, Damon Moore 6, Trevor Ison 4, Zachary Gray 10. FG 17, FT 4/8, F 17. (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: Farr)