Kennett's Kevonte Mitchell and head coach Jim Vaughan walk below the scoreboard as they are leaving the locker room at halftime. [Order this photo]
Kennett's Collin Smith chases after Senath-Hornersville's Kyle Moore.
The Indians limited the Lions to three field goals or less in every quarter.
No Senath-Hornersville player scored more than four points as Kennett cruised to a convincing 60-19 victory.
"I thought we were pretty solid, overall," Kennett coach Jim Vaughan said. "I thought we took good shots and had good shot-selection most of the night. I thought our defensive-floor-position was pretty good and our defensive-cover was a lot better tonight. We wanted to start out in a zone press, but they were going to hold the ball so we had to go man and I thought we up-tempoed that pretty good and made them speed up a little bit. When you go man and the ball goes toward the basket you have to have good recovery and I thought we did that in a lot of instances."
19 points is the fewest points the Kennett defense has allowed this season and the fewest points Senath-Hornersville has scored this season. Senath-Hornersville's previous season-low was 42 points in a loss to Hayti on Dec. 18. Kennett's previous season-best defensive effort came in a 65-42 win against Crowley's Ridge, Ark., on Dec. 1.
Kennett's Cameron Harper goes for a rebound.
"They are not going to like it, but we are going to fix it," Heeb continued. "When you play that bad it's 100 percent the coach's fault. It is 100 percent on me.
"I thought we were ready to play," Heeb added. "We had two good days of practice, but there is something happening from the time we walk out of practice to the time we walk in the gym to play a team. I don't want to say we are afraid. I don't know if we are nervous or there is just a mental block from having lost, lost and lost like they have. I'm not saying we would have won the game, but I am saying you can play well and still get beat by a better team. Kennett is better than us, but we are not even playing well."
Both teams struggled to score in the first quarter. Kennett led the game 6-0 with 4:03 remaining in the first period. Senath-Hornersville scored its first points when Alex Oltman recorded a 2-point field goal following a Lions' timeout to trim the margin to 6-2 with 3:33 left in the first quarter.
Senath-Hornersville's Shane Crawford takes the ball to the basket.
"Once we got to halftime and they had eight points our goal was to be in the right position defensively, be active, get tips and hold them to 20," Vaughan said. "It wasn't for the number or anything, but just for the mindset we can get to the right spots, stay in front of the ball, be aggressive and make it tough for teams to get baskets."
The Indians outscored the Lions 28-11 in the second half.
"The other night against Malden it took us a whole quarter before we started playing well," Heeb said, referring to the 73-53 loss to Malden Tuesday night. "It's like they have to prove it to themselves against another team they can play well. What I want them to do is believe when they walk on the floor because they really do work hard enough in practice to compete. We are young and if we keep working that hard and compete one day soon we will win, but right now there is some disconnect and it's my job to fix it."
Kevonte Mitchell paced Kennett's offense with 21 points. Mitchell had five steals.
"We ran a lot more of our quick-hitters and sets because there were a number of dead-ball situations," Vaughan said. "I thought our execution was pretty good. We got it where we wanted to get it 90 percent of the time. We didn't finish a few times out of it, but just being able to execute is a step in the right direction It means we are getting a feel for some of the things we are doing and getting the ball to people where we want them to have it."
Kennett's Antonio Primer takes a one-handed shot.
"One of his biggest downfalls this year has been just being in control with the basketball," Vaughan said of Weeden. "He was as good as he has ever been tonight. When he slows down a little bit like that he sees the floor well and gets people in the right spots. He was one of the reasons we ran stuff pretty good tonight because a lot of times he was the assist guy on our offensive plays. Good for him to slow down and be precise with what he's doing."
Zach Johnson and Austin Autry led Senath-Hornersville in scoring with four points each. The Lions did not shoot a free throw in the game.
"We didn't want to stall," Heeb said. "But what we wanted to do was keep the floor big to give us room because their initial pressure on the ball is really good. Coach Vaughan has done a good job of implementing that style here at Kennett, but if you can beat that initial pressure with any high school team you have a chance at a kick out and a shot somewhere else. I thought we did a really good job of it, but we just didn't finish or would have a pass that was a simple pitch and catch and we would fumble the ball out of bounds. I don't know if that's nerves or we've got kids genuinely afraid, but that's what we've got to fix."
Kennett's Harold Weeden distributes the ball Friday night.
"I think that will be real important this year because you have to play back-to-back nights in the semifinals and finals," Vaughan said of the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, which will be played Jan 28 - Feb. 1 at Malden. "Whoever we play on the semifinal game will already have played one game and we will be able to get pretty decent practice time in. We can look at the bracket and prepare for both of our potential opponents for a couple of days whereas the other team will only have probably a day to prepare for us. The No. 1 seed is pretty key in any tournament scenario."
Senath-Hornersville (4-10) is currently 0-4 in regular-season conference play.
Kennett's Rantrell Caruthers glides to the basket.
"Right now it doesn't matter if we play Portageville, Caruthersville, Blytheville or the Boston Celtics," Heeb said. "It's about the Senath-Hornersville Lions for us right now. We have to keep improving, but we have to go out on the floor and believe in what we are doing. They are great kids, but there is a disconnect we have to fix. So we circle Portageville on the calendar and hope it is Tuesday night we fix it."
Kennett 60, Senath-Hornersville 19
SHS 4 4 4 7 - 19
KHS 12 20 22 6 - 60
SENATH-HORNERSVILLE (19) - Zach Johnson 4, Kyle Moore 3, Shane Crawford 2, Alan Gonzalez 2, Austin Autry 2, Alex Oltman 4, Juan Castillo 2. FG 9, FT 0/0, F 13. (3-pointers: Moore 1. Fouled out: Oltman)
KENNETT (60) - Cameron Harper 3, Rantrell Caruthers 3, Akeem Nelson 2, Collin Smith 3, Kevonte Mitchell 21, Harold Weeden 5, Antonio Primer 15, Materion Jones 8. FG 25, FT 7/19, F 6. (3-pointers: Weeden 1, Mitchell 1, Caruthers 1. Fouled out: none)
Notes: Kennett won the junior varsity game against Senath-Hornersville 52-34.
The Senath-Hornersville defense eyes Kennett's Antonio Primer. [Order this photo]
Kennett's Antonio Primer attempts to stop a shot by Senath-Hornersvill'e Kyle Moore. [Order this photo]
The Senath-Hornersville fans cheer their team on.