Kennett varsity girls basketball players and head coach Rod Baxter (left) watch the game unfold from the bench Monday night against Dexter.
Kennett's Lara Abmeyer brings down a rebound.
The Lady Bearcats outscored the Lady Indians by double digits in every quarter on its way to a convincing 89-17 win.
Kennett coach Rod Baxter believed his team showed positive signs despite the 72-point loss.
"I know there was a huge point-deficit," Baxter said. "We get that and we talked about it. A lot of people are not going to understand this statement, but we were happy with the way we played together the first half. I know the score wasn't indicative that we should be happy, but we had worked long and hard about beating their press and getting into offensive sets.
"We've struggled with that earlier in the season, but tonight we did a pretty good job of breaking the press," Baxter continued. "The shots didn't fall and we made some errant passes. We get that, but what we had worked on we executed the best we could."
Dexter girls basketball coach Chad Allen said the game plan was to attack Kennett from the inside-out from the get-go.
"Coming into this game I knew Kennett was down a little bit from previous years," Allen said. "For the most part we knew they had lost a lot of size inside and we really wanted to try to get the ball inside. I thought Paige Patterson and Brittany Harris definitely finished real well inside."
Kennett's Anna Kay Hilburn attacks the basket.
Dexter's Brittany Harris tallied 12 of her 19 points before halftime. The Lady Bearcats' Paige Patterson calculated eight of her 17 points in the first. All of the points Patterson and Harris scored in the first half were on 2-point field goals.
Dexter's Alison Jarrell and Hannah Noe scored the majority of their first-half points on perimeter shots. Noe scored six of her nine first-half points on 3-pointers and Jarrell calculated 12 of her 14 first-half points on treys. Jarrell finished with a team-high 20 points and Noe scored 14 points.
"Defensively we knew we could not come in and try to match up with them because of their size and the fact they are physically strong," Baxter said. "So we made a commitment to run a half-court trap to disrupt their offensive sets a little bit. It was fine, but they've got great individuals who hit some early shots."
Dexter scored the first eight points for an early 8-0 lead with 6:14 remaining in the first quarter. Kennett trimmed the margin to 8-4 before the Lady Bearcats ended the first period on a 22-2 run.
Kennett's best offensive quarter was the second period when it had four players record a field goal. The Lady Bearcats outscored the Lady Indians by 14 points in the second period to increase its lead to 53-15 at halftime.
Shon Wynne knocked down a field goal with 6:17 remaining in regulation. Wynne's 2-pointer accounted for the only Kennett points after halftime.
"The first half I really didn't feel like we did a very good job of containing the dribbler," Allen said. "I thought they got a lot of good drives on us and got the ball inside quite a bit. We talked about trying to limit that at halftime and in the second half we only allowed two points. We did a much better job of taking that away the second half."
Dexter is the first of three Class 4 teams Kennett will play this season before the Class 4, District 1, Tournament at the Bearcat Event Center in late February. Kennett will also play at Class 4 Sikeston on Jan. 14 and host Class 4 Notre Dame on Jan. 31.
"We are going to give Dexter all the credit," Baxter said. "We get they are a top-ranked team, but what we want to take from this game is the challenge of playing a top-ranked team. You have to accept it as a challenge. You cannot really accept it as a defeat. You've got to accept it as this is the level Class 4 basketball is played at and we want to get to that level.
"We need to be challenged to be like Dexter," Baxter added. "We are going to be a Class 4 team so we have to play Class 4 basketball night-in and night-out. It's going to be very difficult. We have to be challenged by it, not get frustrated by it and play as a team. I was happy with the girls really being there for each other tonight against a team that was that tough."
Dexter, which also beat Webster Groves 65-61 Saturday in a game played near St. Louis, improves its record to 13-1 with Monday's victory. Dexter has won its Class 4 district four out of the last five seasons and is currently ranked No. 8 in Class 4.
"Our district is always competitive and there are a lot of good teams in it," Allen said. "We definitely got our work cut out for us. We've got to get better at a few things and hopefully come district-time we will be ready."
Dexter returns to action Thursday when it plays at Neelyville.
Kennett (7-5) will try to snap a 3-game losing streak when in returns to Bootheel Conference regular-season play Thursday. Kennett can improve to 5-0 in conference play with a home win against Malden Thursday.
"It's a big game and we always want to be competitive in the conference we are in," Baxter said. "It's a home game before we have three road games next week. We want to be as competitive as possible these next eight days, because in January if you don't pay attention you've lost a game or two in a row and by the end of January you cannot take any more losses because you are going into the district."
Dexter 89, Kennett 17
DHS 30 23 21 15 - 89
KHS 6 9 0 2 - 17
DEXTER (89) - Mollie Whitehead 4, Katelynn Frazier 3, Hannah Noe 14, Melanie McKuin 4, Alison Jarrell 20, Erika Cobb 5, Paige Patterson 17, Brittany Harris 19, Makayla Waldner 1, Katie Reiker 2. FG 32, FT 18/25, F 13. (3-pointers:Noe 2, Jarrell 5. Fouled out: none)
KENNETT (17) - Anna Kay Hilburn 4, Logan Vaughan 2, Shon Wynne 4, Kenna Hounihan 4, Kate Shetley 2, Courtney McElhaney 1. FG 7, FT 3/9, F 18. (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: none)
Notes: Dexter won the junior varsity contest against Kennett 69-13.