The Kennett varsity girls basketball team celebrates its one-point Bootheel Conference win against Senath-Hornersville Thursday night.
Kennett's Darby Sparks and Senath-Hornersville's Briana Kempf fight for a loose ball.
Kennett got the steal it needed near its own baseline with less than 10 seconds remaining.
Seconds later Lara Abmeyer completed a lay-up to put Kennett on top 43-42 with five seconds left.
The Senath-Hornersville Lions never got the ball back to half court after, allowing Kennett to secure a one-point win and improve to 3-0 in regular-season Bootheel Conference play.
"We just had all-out-effort at the end," Baxter said. "The girls looked for each other and they won the game."
Senath-Hornersville coach Jamie Johnson said he tried to call timeout multiple times before Kennett forced the turnover that eventually resulted in a game-winning lay-up.
Johnson, who's bench was located on the opposite end of the court, was not awarded a timeout by the two-man officiating crew in the final 10 seconds of regulation.
"I thought it was a good contest," Johnson said. "I thought both teams played their tail off and at the end of the ball game we didn't hit free throws we needed to hit to win the game and we weren't strong enough with the basketball at the end of the game with less than 10 seconds left.
Senath-Hornersville's Rachel Tom drives aside Kennett's Logan Vaughan.
"But I was proud of my kids," Johnson continued. "I thought they played their tail off on the road. Everything we did worked. I was really happy with my kids. I just didn't like the situation at the end at all. I don't know. I don't know what that deal is. I really don't."
Senath-Hornersville did not score after Taylor Clifton made back-to-back free throws to put the Lions on top 42-37 with 42 seconds remaining.
"We were at 48 seconds when we said 'we are going 55-full and going to trap,'" Baxter said. "It was a little bit of a surprise for the other team I think and the girls executed it to perfection."
Abmeyer made two free throws with 36 seconds left to trim the margin to 42-39 and Darby Sparks made two free throws with 18 seconds left to cut the deficit to 42-41. Senath-Hornersville missed two free throws with 24 seconds left.
Three Kennett players were directly involved in the steal that resulted in the final field goal of the game.
The Kennett high school cheerleaders performing Thursday night.
"We were out there going as hard as we could trying to keep them from getting the ball in," Sparks said. "As soon as the ball got up in the air we went after it. I tipped it out of one girl's hands and Anna Kay dove for it and got it.
"I saw Abmeyer and Jenny Lockhert," Hilburn added. "So I just tossed it ahead and Abmeyer got it. Thank goodness she put it in.
"I didn't even think about the time," Abmeyer said, when asked if she knew how much time was left following Hilburn's pass. "All I knew was we were down and I had to make a shot or get fouled.
"It was amazing, but I couldn't have done it without my teammates," Abmeyer continued. "Without their free throws and us playing hard it wouldn't have been possible. That's what it took for us to win tonight."
Senath-Hornersville had an electric start to the game. The Lions jumped out to a 10-2 lead less than four minutes into the first quarter and led 16-7 at the start of the second quarter.
The Kennett Little Dribblers perform Thursday night at halftime of the Kennett-Senath-Hornersville high school basketball game.
Baxter added: "They had changed their defense from what we had seen before at the start of the game. We had talked about it, but I think our girls struggled to adjust early because we weren't in attacking mode. Early on I don't think we had the best shot selection in the game and got down early. When we got down early we put pressure on ourselves a little bit."
Kennett never led in the first half, but cut into the deficit in a big way in the second quarter when it limited the Lions to seven points. Kennett trailed the contest 23-20 at halftime.
"I challenged the girls to get this to two or three points by halftime," Baxter said. "We hit a three in the last minute of the half and went into halftime down by three. That got us back in the game."
Senath-Hornersville scored the first four points of the second half to increase its lead to 27-20. Kennett followed with an 8-0 run to take its first lead at 28-27 with 4:18 remaining in the third quarter. Kennett led 34-31 at the end of the third period.
"I thought we played really well in the third quarter," Baxter said. "Then they adjusted and we were stuck on 34 points to me forever in a day. They went ahead right there in that high 30's mark. I told my assistant coach 'we have to attack the rim now, draw the fouls and get to the free-throw-line.' We extended our defense after that and the girls responded."
The largest lead by either team in the fourth quarter was when the Lions led 42-37.
Sparks hit the only 3-pointer in the game. Sparks led Kennett in scoring with 14 points.
"We are trying to dare them to shoot from the outside," Johnson said. "They did not do that very much tonight. Hats off to Kennett. They played a good game."
Briana Kempf led the Lions in scoring with 13 points. Rachel Tom scored 10 points for Senath-Hornersville and Clifton tallied nine.
"I thought Kennett did a pretty good job of shutting Rachel down," Johnson said. "The other ones had to kind of step up and do it together. We did that and Kennett's a good ball club. Some girls stepped up and took some shots at places they are not used to shooting from. Their shots gave us a chance to win it in the end."
Kenna Hounihan, who scored 10 points for Kennett, fouled out in the final minute of regulation. The Lions' McKenzie Cantrell contributed six points before she fouled out with 2:57 remaining.
"We had a lot of girls in foul trouble tonight," Baxter said. "We subbed in and our subs made adjustments. Kenna Hounihan, Kate Shetley, Kaytlyn Parker and Khadijah Whitfield came in and helped us in their slots."
The Kennett girls won the junior varsity game against Senath-Hornersville 44-25.
The arch rivals will square off again Saturday in the first round of the 16-team varsity Lady Royals Classic at Twin Rivers High School in Broseley, Mo. Kennett has received the No. 7 seed in the double-elimination tournament and Senath-Hornersville is seeded No. 10.
"It's another game for us," Johnson said. "It doesn't really matter who we play right now. I think we are playing hard. The kids are playing well. We just came out a little short tonight because we couldn't hang on to it. But that's what happens on the road."
Round 3 is slated for approximately 6 p.m. Saturday. It will be the seventh of eight first-round games played at the tournament Saturday. The tournament kicks off at 9 a.m. with top-seeded Dexter taking on No. 16 seeded Malden. Click Here for Bracket
"We are dealing with a six-point win the first time at a neutral court and a one-point win tonight at our place," Baxter said of playing Senath-Hornersville for a third time before Christmas. "So at Twin Rivers on a neutral court I think we better be ready because I think we will see the best effort out of Senath. We are going to give our best effort also, but they are really going to be challenged after taking two losses to us."
The Kennett varsity girls basketball team celebrates its one-point Bootheel Conference win against Senath-Hornersville Thursday night. [Order this photo]
Varsity Girls: Kennett 43, Senath-Hornersville 42
SHS 16 7 8 11 - 42
KHS 7 13 14 9 - 43
SENATH-HORNERSVILLE (42) - Taylor Clifton 9, Rachel Tom 10, Karen Bracamontes 2, McKenzie Cantrell 6, Briana Kempf 13, Kenna Crawford 2. FG 16, FT 10/21, F 21. (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: Cantrell)
KENNETT (43) - Jenny Lockhert 5, Darby Sparks 14, Anna Kay Hilburn 4, Logan Vaughan 1, Lara Abmeyer 9, Kenna Hounihan 10. FG 12, FT 15/32, F 22. (3-pointers: Sparks 1. Fouled out: Hounihan)
Junior Varsity Girls: Kennett 44, Senath-Hornersville 25
SHS 6 8 6 5 - 25
KHS 21 9 6 8 - 44
SENATH-HORNERSVILLE (25) - Loretta Britton 3, Lucy Reyes 6, Sarah Tom 4, Kenna Crawford 4, Tori Brown 2, Leighann Dinkins 3, Cynthia Gonzalez 3. FG 11, FT 3/6, F 17. (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: none)
KENNETT (44) - Carissa Oliver 2, Jacky Lockhert 2, Rausheda Rose 6, Logan Vaughan 2, Kenna Hounihan 17, Sydney Patton 4, Cristal Garcia 4, Jadrien Herron 1, Daqueshia Duckworth 6. FG 18, FT 8/27, F 11. (3-pointers: Sparks 1. Fouled out: none)