Kennett's Jay Edgington attempts to get a shot off in traffic near the rim.
Kennett's Collin Smith protects a rebound.
"We challenged them at halftime," Vaughan said. "This is a district game and the only thing this game does is dictate district seedings a little bit when that time comes, but that's a long way away and there's time to get better before that. We told them at halftime 'we are looking for competitors and we are looking for toughness right now.' We really thought our kids responded pretty good and we had good effort out of them after. Our defensive positioning was a lot better the second half and we did a better job containing their perimeter shooting."
The Kennett Indians outscored the Notre Dame Bulldogs by 11 points in the second half after Vaughan challenged his team to play better defense.
Notre Dame hit seven of its eight 3-pointers before halftime and won the first half by 25 points.
The difference in the first half and second half was a 63-49 win for Notre Dame.
"It was a huge game for us," Notre Dame coach Kevin Roberts said. "Our district is really tough with Cape Central, Kennett and Sikeston. Our goal is to compete at a really high level with a district with four really good teams in it.
"Tonight shows we can play and when we make shots we are really good," Roberts continued. "I was pleased with our effort on the defensive end and on the glass. We rebounded the ball really, really well."
The entire first half was not a nightmare for Kennett.
The Indians' Antonio Primer and Antavies Drake tallied the first field goals of the game to put Kennett on top 4-0 less than a minute into the first half. Notre Dame calculated the next nine points to take a 9-4 lead and never trailed again.
Kennett freshman Akeem Nelson trimmed the Notre Dame lead to one possession at 12-10 with two minutes left in the first quarter when he collected his only field goal. Notre Dame followed with a 17-0 run to increase its lead to 29-10 with 6:28 left in the first half.
"We told the kids they were going to be ready on their home floor and shoot it well on their home floor," Vaughan said. "We thought their shots would come by penetrating and pitching it. They did that. We let the basketball get deep too many times and our recovery was late. They got good looks and capitalized on the looks they got in the first half. We did a better job in the second half, but with a team with that good of ball control you cannot get down that much in the first half."
Notre Dame's lead swelled to 46-21 by halftime. The electric start came just three days after Notre Dame was outscored 52-13 in the first half of a game it lost to state-ranked Charleston 74-44.
"We kind of got after it Wednesday and Thursday after what happened Tuesday down at Charleston," Roberts said. "We worked really hard. If we execute we've got guys to score the ball. That showed tonight."
Eight guys scored the ball for Notre Dame in the first half. The Bulldogs hit five 3-pointers in the second quarter alone.
Grant Ressell led Notre Dame's outside attack. Ressell drained four treys. He tallied all 12 of his points before halftime.
Three other players wearing the Notre Dame uniform calculated at least one 3-pointer in the first half.
"They are one of those teams that might have a different guy lead them in scoring from night to night," Vaughan said. "They had kids hit open perimeter shots. Then they fed the Barber kid in the post. He went to work inside with toughness. They've got a lot of threats you have to defend."
Notre Dame's leading scorer never shot a 3-pointer. Bulldogs' center Jordan Barber recorded at least two 2-pointers in every quarter on his way to a game-high 24 points.
"We can score inside with Jordan Barber," Roberts said. "We went away from that the last couple of games. We knew we had to get it in there first and then that opens up the outside."
Kennett outscored Notre Dame 15-10 in the third period and 13-7 in the fourth quarter. Notre Dame's largest lead in the second half was 52-23 with 5:13 left in the third quarter. The closest Kennett got to Notre Dame in the second half was when it cut the lead to the final score with less than 10 seconds left.
Primer recorded a field goal in every quarter. He scored seven of his 11 points in the second half.
"We struggled getting the ball down low," Vaughan said. "We are not attacking zone presses very well. Once we get to doing that we will see even better output. He had a really good second half. We've got to keep grinding and find a way to be in better attack mode against any kind of pressure defense."
Kevonte Mitchell also scored in every quarter for the Indians. He finished with a team-high 19 points.
Harold Weeden finished third in scoring for Kennett with six points.
"We knew what they had," Roberts said. "We just wanted to pressure them. That was it. We knew they were going to turn it over. They are quick, but we knew they would give it to us eventually and we had to make sure and convert those turnovers into points."
Notre Dame won the junior varsity game against Kennett 64-34.
Notre Dame (3-5) is back in action Dec. 26 when it begins play in the 16-team Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau, Mo. Third-seeded Notre Dame will play No. 14 seeded Bell City Wednesday at noon in a first-round game at the 4-day double-elimination tournament.
Kennett (5-3) is back in action Dec. 26 when it begins play in the 16-team Bloomfield Christmas Tournament. No. 1 seeded Kennett will take on No. 16 seeded Richland Dec. 26 at 10 a.m. in a first-round contest. Kennett has won the the tournament the last three seasons.
"One of the last things we said was 'we've got to take this as a lesson because there are teams coming into that Bloomfield Christmas Tournament ready to play,'" Vaughan said. "That's a big and great event for high school kids. There are some teams that have had some good, solid years this year and really believe in what they are doing, and should. You cannot overlook one thing next week and hopefully this is a tool for us. We've got to go back to work on Sunday with a good approach, mentality and work ethic when we compete against each other.
"You never like losing, but sometimes an eye-opening loss cures a few things," Vaughan concluded.
Kennett's Cameron Harper guards Notre Dame's Cody DeBrock. [Order this photo]
KHS 10 11 15 13 - 49
NDS 18 28 10 7 - 63
KENNETT (49) - Antavies Drake 2, Cameron Harper 5, Akeem Nelson 2, Jay Edgington 2, Collin Smith 2, Kevonte Mitchell 19, Harold Weeden 6, Antonio Primer 11. FG 18, FT 12/17, F 12. (3-pointers: Primer 1. Fouled out: none)
NOTRE DAME (63) - Cody DeBrock 3, Quinn Poythress 8, Patrick Williamson 4, Luke Mocherman 2, Trenton Schumer 5, Grant Ressell 12, Jordan Barber 24, Thomas Himmelberg 5. FG 25, FT 5/12, F 19. (3-pointers: Ressell 4, Poythress 2, DeBrock 1, Himmelberg 1. Fouled out: none)
Notre Dame's No. 4 Quinn Poythress and No. 34 Jordan Barber trap Kennett's Antavies Drake. [Order this photo]