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Top eight seeds advance to quarterfinals of Lady Royals Classic

Monday, January 7, 2013

Staff photo/Scott Matthews Malden's Faith Hale goes for the shot during the Green Wave's opening round loss to Dexter at the Lady Royals' Classic. [Order this photo]
BROSELEY, Mo. - The top eight seeds advanced to the quarterfinals of the 16-team Lady Royals Classic varsity girls basketball tournament Saturday.

Defending champion Dexter opened the tournament with a 99-15 win against No. 16 seeded Malden. In other first round action Saturday No. 2 seeded New Madrid County Central beat No. 15 seeded East Carter County 68-29, No. 3 seeded Neelyville beat No. 14 seeded Portageville 58-33, No. 4 seeded Clearwater beat No. 13 seeded Kelly 73-45, No. 5 seeded Twin Rivers beat No. 12 seeded Greenville 43-30, No. 6 seeded Naylor beat No. 11 seeded Chaffee 64-28, No. 7 seeded Kennett beat No. 10 seeded Senath-Hornersville 50-36 and No. 8 seeded Doniphan beat No. 9 seeded Charleston 76-54.

Senath-Hornersville and Kennett collided for a third time this season in the seventh game of the tournament Saturday.

Round 3 was tied 21-21 at halftime before Kennett opened the second half on a 9-0 run to take a 30-21 lead with 3:50 remaining in the third quarter. Kennett increased its lead to 35-25 by the end of the third quarter and led by at least nine points throughout the fourth quarter.

"We came into this tournament believing we can defend," Kennett coach Rod Baxter said. "We are getting stronger. I still don't believe we are 100 percent, but we do believe we can pressure teams with our 13 available players. Our game plan was to pressure early and often. We thought eventually it would wear them down. We felt like their legs got offensively tired in the second half and we outscored them by 10 in the third quarter.

"We also got to the rim better and passed the ball better the second half," Baxter continued. "I think one of the main keys is our passing and rebounding together really clicked late in the half."

Senath-Hornersville was in foul trouble by halftime. The Lions' Taylor Clifton and Tori Brown had both been whistled for three fouls by halftime. Clifton fouled out with 4:39 left in the fourth quarter and Brown fouled out with 2:16 left in regulation.

"There were two different styles in the ball game," Senath-Hornersville coach Jamie Johnson said. "There were two different halves. The first half teams were very physical. Both teams were slow and sloppy offensively. The second half we did not turn up the pressure the way we needed to without fouling and Kennett did press without fouling. When one team can turn the pressure up and another one cannot that's going to be the story of the game.

"We had girls in foul trouble and Kennett did not," Johnson continued. "That just changes the entire complexion of the game. When we have our seven, eight and nine in the game and Kennett has their top five in it dictates the entire offensive output of the game."

No players finished in double digits in the scoring column for Kennett. Eight players scored at least two points for the Indians. Kennett was led in scoring by Kate Shetley and Kenna Hounihan who both calculated nine points.

"That's what we are about," Baxter said of the balanced scoring. "We are going to have girls score in double-digits. But we play a lot of players and have a number of equally talented players. So I'll be happy with five to 10 girls getting seven, eight or nine points a game. I don't think our girls care who scores as long as it gets done."

Rachel Tom scored a team-high 14 points for Senath-Hornersville. Briana Kempf added nine more for the Lions.

"It's hard to get Rachel going," Johnson said. "Kennett does a lot of good things defensively and they held her pretty good. When you can hold her down like they did you are doing a pretty good job defensively."

Kennett will take on New Madrid County Central in a championship quarterfinal Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. New Madrid County Central defeated Kennett 60-23 in a championship semifinal at the Lady Bulldog Classic on Nov. 27.

"We were not prepared for the pressure New Madrid was going to put on us and the physicality of New Madrid," Baxter said of the first matchup. "I think we will be better prepared the next time we face them. We had a 3-game week this week and it will be good for us to get some rest before we attack that higher seed. We will give our best effort Wednesday and see if we cannot get to the next round."

Class 4 Kennett is 3-0 against Class 2 Senath-Hornersville this season. The two teams could meet again in the Bootheel Conference Tournament in February. It remains unclear if the future of the long-standing rivalry is in jeopardy after the 2012-13 season.

Kennett will exit the Bootheel Conference after this season and it will no longer compete in the Bootheel Conference Tournament. Senath-Hornersville is currently slated to remain in the Bootheel Conference next season.

Senath-Hornersville will play East Carter County in a consolation quarterfinal contest Wednesday at 6 p.m.

"It's good to play somebody else," Johnson said of Wednesday's game. "It's nice to play a team that is not Kennett. We are going to definitely have to take a look at our schedule for next year because playing a team four or five times in one year is ridiculous. It's not a good situation for us and our program. We'll have to see what changes we are going to make since Kennett is going to be out of the Bootheel Conference.

"We are looking forward to playing Wednesday night," Johnson continued. "And we wish Kennett a whole lot of luck against New Madrid County Central."

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