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Kennett stops Bloomfield, advances to semifinals of Christmas Tournament

Saturday, December 29, 2012

(Photo)
Staff Photo by Dustin Ward
Kennett's Cameron Harper and Bloomfield's Thomas Sanders trail Kennett's No. 10 Akeem Nelson.
BLOOMFIELD, Mo. - Kennett coach Jim Vaughan could hear his players encouraging each other to prevent the Bloomfield Wildcats from getting to the basket in the second half of a championship quarterfinal contest at the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament Friday night.

"I heard Kevonte, Antavies and Antonio a couple of times talking on the floor to 'lock up,'" Vaughan said of his team's second-half defense. "We got after each other a little more and put demand on each other. That does something for your team when you communicate like that and makes you want to play harder. I thought we did that early in the second half."

Kennett entered the locker room with a 47-32 halftime lead after Bloomfield ended the first half with a 3-pointer. The Wildcats did not record another field goal until the 2:30 mark of the third quarter, allowing Kennett to pad its lead to 58-36.

Top-seeded Kennett maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half on its way to an 82-57 win against No. 9 seeded Bloomfield.

Bloomfield's offense was forced to attack a variety of Kennett presses and traps.

"We wanted to speed the game up," Vaughan said. "We don't dare people to drive past us because that usually ends up being successful for them. I did feel like we had a better effort defending the basketball and keeping it in front of us. We've got to keep getting better though. You just cannot have those kind of breakdowns. Bloomfield capitalized on our [breakdowns] at times tonight and good teams are going to do that. They can break you down on the dribble a little bit and make you scramble. Then you are prone to get in foul trouble so that's an area we've got to keep getting better at."

Kennett never trailed the contest after taking a 4-2 lead with 7:08 remaining in the first quarter. Six Kennett players combined to score 25 points in the first quarter. The Indians led 25-15 after the first period before increasing its lead to 15 at halftime.

"We only committed three turnovers in the first half," Vaughan said. "I thought we executed things pretty well and our kids got creative against their zone defense."

Karnes also felt like his offense executed well at times, but simply did not knock down enough shots to keep pace with Kennett.

"At times I thought we handled it all right," Karnes said of attacking Kennett's defense. "I thought the Ruch kid got to the rim a couple of times. Once they started staying in front of us where we did have to kick it and we took outside shots we didn't knock many of them down. I thought we had some good looks we just didn't make the shots we needed to make.

"We had some turnovers here and there, but Kennett is going to make you turn the ball over," Karnes continued. "At times our offense was OK. We just didn't shoot the ball well. For us to be competitive against a team like that we've got to shoot it well."

Divante Taylor was taken off the floor by paramedics in the third quarter after hitting the floor hard after he leaped into the air for the basketball.

"He's coming out of football with a little bit of a spine injury," Vaughan said of Taylor."He has come back from that and has been released. When he hit the floor he landed awkwardly and said he felt it twist and heard it pop a little bit. We are hoping it is precautionary the way the EMT's handled it putting him on a board and strapping him. But we do want him to go get it x-rayed because when it is the spine you cannot be too cautious. We huddled up and the kids said a prayer for him and as a team the kids got together and lifted him up. We are going to expect the best for him."

The Wildcats hit three treys in the fourth period. Bloomfield narrowed the deficit to 14 points twice in the fourth quarter, but never got closer.

"It was one of those things I told the guys 'if we get beat by 10 or 40 it doesn't really matter,'" Karnes said of the final period. "A loss is a loss. We finally made a few shots to get it down to 14, but just didn't shoot it consistently enough to get closer. Kennett's as good as advertised and just a tough team to prepare for and play against. That definitely showed tonight."

Kevonte Mitchell led Kennett in scoring with 21 points, brought down a team-high 11 rebounds and calculated a team-high seven assists.

The Indians' Antonio Primer had 19 points and nine rebounds. Akeem Nelson had six steals and five assists for the Indians. Kennett's Collin Smith tallied seven rebounds.

Antavies Drake recorded 16 points and three assists for Kennett.

"We had some solid individual performances tonight," Vaughan said. "That always helps your team.

Bloomfield's Brett Ruch calculated 13 of his 15 points in the first half.

"Brett has been very aggressive the last two games," Karnes said. "We need him to do that. If he's really aggressive like he has been the last two games he's kind of tough to stay in front of and defend. We need him to do what he does pretty consistently for us to compete."

Caleb Baker hit three of the Wildcats' five 3-pointers. Baker scored nine of his 15 points after halftime.

"Caleb Baker is a kid that is kind of a streaky shooter," Karnes said. "When he makes one he can normally turn one into three. It kind of took him the first half to settle in and make sure his feet were set before he shot it."

Bloomfield (6-4) will play in the fifth-place semifinals Saturday at 4 p.m. against fifth-seeded Twin Rivers.

"The game [Saturday] will be a really character game," Karnes said. "Both teams are coming off a loss and it will come down to who has fresher legs the third day and prepares better. We will prepare as good as we can and try to play the best we can."

Kennett (7-3) will play in the championship semifinals Saturday at 7 p.m. against fourth-seeded South Pemisccot

"This is what makes tournaments like this so great in this atmosphere," Vaughan said. "Three games in three days helps simulate postseason-play. We are going to enjoy this right now and watch our next opponent as a team. Then we've got to get back in the gym tomorrow and prepare for what either one of these teams might do. Neither team will be an easy opponent by any stretch of the imagination so we've got to come in and have a good mental approach [Saturday] when we hit the gym, have a great bus ride and be as prepared coming out of the locker room as we were tonight."

(Photo)
Staff Photo by Dustin Ward
Kennett's Kevonte Mitchell eyes the basket. [Order this photo]
No. 1 Kennett 82, No. 9 Bloomfield 57

BHS 15 17 9 16 - 57

KHS 25 22 13 22 - 82

BLOOMFIELD (57) - Caleb Baker 15, Brett Ruch 15, Austin Williamson 7, Thomas Sanders 11, Austin Battles 2, Zac Goode 3, Tavis Philips 4. FG 16, FT 20/23, F 13. (3-pointers: Baker 3, Sanders 1, Goode 1. Fouled out: none)

KENNETT (82) - Antavies Drake 16, Cameron Harper 2, Akeem Nelson 7, Collin Smith 8, Kevonte Mitchell 21, Harold Weeden 7, Antonio Primer 19, Divante Taylor 2. FG 34, FT 10/15, F 19. (3-pointers: Drake 1, Nelson 1, Weeden 1, Primer 1. Fouled out: none)



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