Three Portageville defenders attempt to block Kennett's Antavies Drake as he soars to the basket.
Kennett overcame a 23-13 first-quarter deficit to beat the Portageville Bulldogs 74-69 and extend its winning-streak to four games.
"Our deal is composure, composure, composure," Kennett coach Jim Vaughan said of the road win. "Our kids don't get rattled right now, which is a cool thing. It's easy to get rattled against a good Portageville team on the road. The kids stuck with what we were doing, made adjustments and made tough, individual plays."
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the first quarter against Kennett and doubled the Indians on the scoreboard at 26-13 with 7:31 left in the first half. Portageville managed only two field goals the final seven minutes of the first half, allowing Kennett to cut the deficit to 31-26 by halftime.
"I thought we attacked their man-to-man defense pretty well in the beginning," Portageville coach Jason Irby said. "They went to that zone and we struggled attacking their zone for much of the second quarter. We had some turnovers and took some bad shots. That allowed the momentum to shift and helped them get back in the game. "
Kennett carried its momentum into the second half. The Indians scored the first six points of the second half to take its first lead of the game at 32-31 with 6:17 remaining in the third quarter. Portageville led by one twice more in the third quarter before Kennett moved ahead for good when it went on top 36-34 with 5:10 left in the third period.
"The second half I thought we were just worked over physically," Irby said. "They dominated the glass. We had really stressed rebounding. I thought they were more physical and knocked down free throws."
Kennett recorded 18 of its 24 made free throws after halftime. The Indians finished 24 of 31 from the free-throw-line. Six Kennett players shot free throws and none missed more than two of their attempts.
"We went to the basket more in the second half," Vaughan said. "When you are doing that you've got a chance to get fouled more. We also had a better offensive transition game the second half."
Portageville trailed by double-digits only once when it fell behind 70-60 with 1:39 left in regulation.
"We sustained every run they made late," Vaughan said. "That goes back to the composure we had in some tough circumstances."
Kevonte Mitchell and Antonio Primer led Kennett in scoring with 20 points each. Antavies Drake and Akeem Nelson also finished in double-digits for the Indians with 13 and 11 points respectively.
Mitchell's night was highlighted by a heavily contested dunk he converted midway into the third quarter.
"That took us to another level defensively," Vaughan said of the slam. "I don't know if you paid attention to our next defensive possession, but it was a steal and we had guys sitting in the stands that couldn't wait to see a play like that again. It just does something for the energy of your team. We executed it very well and the assist well. It was five guys making that play."
Primer, who played mostly in the paint last season, calculated both of Kennett's treys against Portageville.
"That's going to surprise people for a while," Vaughan said of Primer's 3-pointers. "But he developed a perimeter game this summer. He can handle it and pass it a little bit. He's not just a big body that can do damage down low. He's got a little bit of a step out game and that makes him a multi-dimension kid."
The Bulldogs' Dion Foster led all scorers with 35 points. Foster tallied 15 of his points in the fourth quarter.
"He played really well and attacked their pressure well most of the night," Irby said of Foster. "Of course he had a few turnovers here and there, but when you are facing constant pressure you are going to have that. But overall he played a good game and shot the ball well. We've just got to do a better job on the boards and take care of the ball."
Dominique Walker finished second in scoring for Portageville with 13 points. Portageville's A.V. Banks knocked down three of the Bulldogs' seven treys and finished with 11 points.
Kennett enters Saturday morning's Bloomfield Christmas Tournament seed-meeting with a record of 5-2. Portageville, which dropped the championship game of the 16-team tournament to three-time defending champion Kennett last season, is 2-3 after its first five games.
"I think there are a ton of teams that can win it if they get hot for four days," Irby said of the Bloomfield Tournament. "I think Kennett is probably the cream of the crop right now. They've got all the pieces and have played some good competition, but it's going to be hard to seed it. I think this year the tournament will come down to which teams play well at the right time. No matter who you play you are going to be playing a pretty good team so you've just got to go and play the games."
Kennett is 2-0 against teams in the tournament. Kennett's other win against a participating team was against Malden Tuesday.
Portageville has a win against Holcomb, which placed sixth at the tournament last season. Hayti and Twin Rivers, which both compete in the tournament, have wins against Portageville.
"It will be interesting to listen to everybody Saturday," Vaughan said of the seed-meeting. "Hayti has solidified their case for Top 4 I think. Bernie is coming in undefeated and they play so well at that tournament.
"I'm looking forward to seeing everybody," Vaughan continued. "I hope for the best seed we can get and hope we are prepared to go into the tournament."
Portageville is back in action Tuesday when it plays at Manila, Ark.
"We've never played them, but I know they have a sophomore point guard who has been scoring about 25 points a game," Irby said of Manila "He's a D-1 type player. They beat Earle, Ark., and played Gosnell, Ark., to a really close game a week ago so they will be a tough opponent."
Kennett returns to action when it plays at Notre Dame Regional High School in Cape Girardeau, Mo., Friday.
"Our kids have never played in that gym," Vaughan said. "They have a student section that is into the game all the time and I think that's great for their school. It's another tough place to play. They are an established program that won a state title not so many years ago and have been a district runner-up to Sikeston year-after-year in the district. They are a bunch that knows how to win and have a good system they stick with. The game will have district-seeding implications, but it's also the game that leads us into the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament and I'd like to keep momentum going into that."
Note:Daily Dunklin Democrat's Sunday edition is printed on Saturday morning. The seedings for the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament were not available before the Sunday edition was printed. Look for complete seedings for the tournament in Tuesday's print edition of Daily Dunklin Democrat.
Portageville's Dion Foster attempts a shot near the rim. [Order this photo]
KHS 13 13 22 26 - 74
PHS 23 8 13 25 - 69
KENNETT (74) - Antavies Drake 13, Akeem Nelson 11, Collin Smith 6, Kevonte Mitchell 20, Harold Weeden 4, Antonio Primer 20. FG 24, FT 24/31, F 16. (3-pointers: Primer 2. Fouled out: none)
PORTAGEVILLE (69) - Cody Carpenter 3, Dion Foster 35, Dominique Walker 13, Robert Anderson 1, Denzell Simmons 4, A.V. Banks 11, Galeb Gooch 2. FG 28, FT 6/15, F 21. (3-pointers: Story 1, Foster 2, Walker 1, Banks 3. Fouled out: none)
Junior Varsity Boys: Kennett 57, Portageville 35
Kennett outscored Portageville in every quarter of the junior varsity contest on its way to a 57-35 win.
Kennett improves its record to 3-3 and 2-1 in regular-season Bootheel Conference play with the victory.
"Tonight's game we came out and played so-so the first half," Kennett junior varsity coach Lance Penn said. "I really thought the kids played a whole lot better the second half. The way we played the second half is the way we have to play as a team. We've got to play tough, physical basketball and really get after it on the defensive end. I think as the season continues we will get better offensively, but in the early part of the season I want to focus on becoming a better defensive basketball team.
"We've got a lot of practice time coming up over the Christmas holiday," Penn continued. "We really want to get in there and fine-tune some things. We want to become a tougher team before our conference tournament in February."
KHS 20 19 8 10 - 57
PHS 11 10 11 3 - 35
KENNETT (57) - Carlos Turner 10, Fred Gooden 4, Akeem Nelson 12, Tom Edgington 6, Malik Wallace 8, Andre Oliver 14, Landon Vaughan 3. FG 24, FT 5/13, F 14. (3-pointers: Turner 2, Nelson 1, Vaughan 1. Fouled out: none)
PORTAGEVILLE (35) - Fredrico Walton 12, Kynan Mosby 5, Jon Garrett Kellams 5, Tyler Daugherty 1, Derrick Priggel 3, Jaylin Mosby 2, Tanner Staffey 5, Greg Hopkins 2. FG 13, FT 7/15, F 13. (3-pointers: Mosby 1, Staffey 1. Fouled out: none)