Hayti's Brandon Burden looks to block a shot by Kennett's Antonio Primer. [Order this photo]
Kennett's Kevonte Mitchell soars past the Hayti defense to the basket.
"The very last thing we said coming out of the locker room was 'they play well here,'" Kennett coach Jim Vaughan said of the road win. "Hayti plays with energy at home and they turn up intensity and make the game chaotic. They are comfortable in this gym and amongst their fans. They played well and went on an 18-0 run at one stretch in the second half. They are a real capable bunch so to me this is a very solid road win."
Both teams led by at least nine points in the second half.
Kennett tallied the first nine points of the second half to take a 43-33 lead with 4:43 left in the third quarter.
Hayti called a timeout after falling behind by double-digits. Following the timeout Hayti went on an 18-0 run over the next four minutes to take a 51-43 lead with more than 90 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
"Part of the thing about taking that timeout was to get my guys to understand they have to compete and play without backing down," Hayti coach Philip Taylor said. "That's what they did. We got some turnovers on our press after the timeout and hit some shots. We got hot and got on a role. That's how we play. We are kind of streaky from time to time."
Kennett's Cameron Harper looks to block a shot by Hayti's Maurion Newbill.
"When we got it to double digits I turned around and made a comment to my assistant coach 'that's a good margin for this point in the game right now if we can sustain,'" Vaughan said. "We got a little passive and Hayti turned it up. Hayti does a great job of capitalizing on other teams mistakes, but what I like is we finished strong after that. We won the last part of the third quarter and it gave us a little momentum going into the fourth."
Kennett scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to move ahead 57-53 with 6:06 remaining and never trailed after. Hayti trimmed the deficit to 65-62 with 3:08 left in regulation before Kennett tallied the next seven points to take a 72-62 lead with 1:43 remaining. Kennett led by at least seven the final 90 seconds of regulation.
"I thought we played pretty well for three quarters," Taylor said. "In total time it is just those three or four minutes where we get out of position where we have issues and that's what happened tonight. Unfortunately, it just happened at the wrong time in the fourth quarter. Not to take anything away from Kennett because they did a good job with the press. We just didn't line up right. When we did we got good shots, especially Newbill. But if we can compete with Kennett I think we will be all right in the stretch run."
Hayti led Kennett 17-10 after the first quarter. Kennett led 34-33 at halftime. Hayti's largest lead of the first half was seven and Kennett's largest lead was two.
"We turned it over in the first half quite a bit," Vaughan said. "We had 13 turnovers in the first half. We had a little passive mindset and we were a little unassertive at times. When we settled into keeping the basketball in front of us defensively and made them shoot over our length a little bit we were able to get some easy buckets out of some transitions. We did a little better job in the second quarter of handling their trap situations and attacking. We were just a little better composed the second half than the first.
"The second half was about the same," Vaughan added. "They won the third quarter and we won the fourth. So we kind of had two identical halves. We just turned it over less the second half."
Kevonte Mitchell led Kennett in the scorebook with 28 points. Mitchell scored 18 points after halftime. He was 6 of 9 from the free-throw-line and recorded 11 2-point field goals.
Hayti's Maurion Newbill matched Mitchell's 28-point total. Newbill tallied 17 of his points before halftime. He was 4 of 4 from the free-throw-line and hit 12 2-pointers.
"Kevonte is awful hard to stay in front of and his length is such an issue," Vaughan said. "He got to the hole a few times and was at the rim with lay-ups in traffic.
"Maurion is one of the fastest kids with the basketball in his hands," Vaughan continued. "He stays in control consistently. He's got a good side-step and jump-stop. He hops to the side to avoid charges and finishes tough.
"It was fun watching both of them go at it tonight."
Kennett freshman Akeem Nelson scored 10 of his 15 points in the second quarter. Nelson hit two of Kennett's three treys.
"He's getting more and more aggressive offensively," Vaughan said of Nelson. "He's athletic and a speedy kid. When he gets his confidence he is tough to stay in front of and he is a strong kid also. He can finish at the basket, absorbs contact well and elevates well when he gets there. I liked his attack mode tonight."
Antonio Primer finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and seven steals for Kennett. He scored eight points in the fourth quarter.
"He's athletic and covers ground," Vaughan said of Primer. "He's got good hands and good feet. When he is able to get a steal or rebound he can drive it out and lead your break. He's got a feel for handling the basketball and passing it to the right spots. He came to be Antonio tonight and when he is that guy he is tough to deal with."
Kennett freshman Rantrell Caruthers scored seven points in his first varsity game of the season. Caruthers missed December recovering from an injury he suffered in the 2012 high school football season.
Kennett won the junior varsity game against Hayti 52-37. The Kennett junior varsity will play Bernie in the championship semifinals of the Malden Tournament Thursday at 6:30 p.m. The championship of the tournament is slated for Saturday at approximately 12:30 p.m.
Hayti's varsity will attempt to remain in outright second place in the conference when it hosts nearby Caruthersville Friday. Hayti is currently 3-1 in the conference. Caruthersville is 2-2.
"We have to compete again," Taylor said. "Every night you come to play hard and see what happens. It boils down to execution. I think the next game will be more of a track meet than tonight and tonight was up and down the floor. It might come down to which team has the deepest bench and the most players that don't get tired."
Kennett continues Bootheel Conference play Friday when it hosts arch rival Senath-Hornersville.
Kennett will secure the No. 1 seed in the Bootheel Conference Tournament if it wins one of its two remaining regular-season conference games because all of the other teams in the Bootheel Conference have at least two conference losses with the exception of Hayti. Kennett would hold a head-to-head tiebreaker with Hayti for the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament if both teams finish with one conference loss since Kennett won the head-to-head meeting Tuesday.
"We've got Senath-Hornersville at our place Friday and that could be a scary game," Vaughan said. "They are going to be able to compete. That's the thing I admire about David Heeb the most is kids play hard under his direction. They are not going to come in saying 'hey we are outmatched.' They will come in and go right at us so we better be ready to play like we did tonight with an aggressive mindset."
Kennett's Jay Edgington dives for a loose ball Tuesday night at Hayti.
KHS 10 24 15 27 - 76
HHS 17 16 20 14 - 67
KENNETT (76) - Rantrell Caruthers 7, Akeem Nelson 15, Jay Edgington 1, Collin Smith 2, Kevonte Mitchell 28, Antonio Primer 17, Materion Jones 6. FG 31, FT 11/18, F 15. (3-pointers: Nelson 2, Caruthers 1. Fouled out: none)
HAYTI (67) - Kenyatte Brooks 9, Maurion Newbill 28, Karnard Humes 8, Austin Watkins 5, Brandon Burden 7, Demetrius Luster 8, Frankie Burden Jr. 2. FG 28, FT 10/17, F 16. (3-pointers: Brooks 1. Fouled out: Frankie Burden Jr.)