Kennett's No. 50 Courtney McElhaney prepares to take a shot in the paint against the Twin Rivers defense Thursday night. [Order this photo]
Kennett's Darby Sparks and Kate Shetley, who have both received significant playing time on varsity in the 2012-13 season, were forced to miss Thursday's game because of injuries.
Kennett won the second half by one-point even with multiple players playing out of position.
The Twin Rivers Lady Royals did its damage in the first half.
The Lady Royals outscored the Lady Indians 13-6 in the first quarter and 14-8 in the second quarter on its way to a 52-40 victory.
"We were very happy," Kennett coach Rod Baxter said. "We took a loss here tonight, but we had our starting point guard out and a gal that has been our second leading scorer in Kate Shetley out. Lara Abmeyer also played with a very sore ankle, and competed.
"We had three non-starters on the floor tonight at some times and remained competitive," Baxter continued. "I'm excited about that because when I said 'I was happy' I meant I was happy the girls played hard and made every effort to be competitive in this game."
Kennett limited Twin Rivers to just two points in the first four minutes of the first quarter. The Lady Indians led the game 4-2 when Twin Rivers coach Kelly Null called a timeout with 4:22 left in the first period.
Twin Rivers ended the first quarter on an 11-4 run to build a 13-6 lead by the start of the second quarter.
The lead swelled to double -digits by halftime.
"I feel like we were streaky, but I think it was because Kennett was streaky and I'm not showing disrespect," Null said. "I think we definitely outsized them and dominated with our size. I think they felt like they had to apply guard-pressure. The pressure caught us off guard and we had some turnovers, but once we regrouped and went back at them with the same kind of intensity we were OK."
Twin Rivers held Kennett scoreless in the first two minutes of the second half as it increased its lead to 31-14 by the 6:14 mark of the third quarter.
"We wanted to come out and go strong against the zone offense they were running," Null said. "They did switch it up some, but when they were in the zone we wanted to attack off-the-dribble so others would be open. We wanted to pick up the speed of our offense in the second half because I thought we held it too long the first half. We did that well and came out and scored several times in a row early in the second half, which made them have to go back to the man and get after us."
Kennett managed to trim the deficit to 42-32 at the 7:28 mark of the fourth period. Twin Rivers responded with an 8-0 run to push its lead to 50-32 before Kennett trimmed the final margin of defeat back to 12.
"They started sagging off some on our non-3-point shooters," Baxter said. "Then we adjusted and got it back to around 10. The thing about it was we could have just said 'time to go home and pack it up.' But we didn't. The girls finished hard. When you've got a team that plays for you like that in January with people injured and sick it's just exciting for a coach."
Kenna Hounihan paced Kennett's offense with 12 points. The Lady Indians' Logan Vaughan scored all nine of her points after halftime. Lara Abmeyer scored eight points, Courtney McElhaney tallied six points and Anna Kay Hilburn calculated five points for Kennett.
"We asked Logan Vaughan to play post," Baxter said. "She had one of the best games of her high school career that I've coached.
"We asked Anna Kay Hilburn to run the point," Baxter continued. "We've always wanted her to be a shooting guard, but she took the responsibility and accepted it.
"We asked Courtney McElhaney to play 40 feet from the rim sometimes when we were running our trap press," Baxter added. "She did a great job. I'm just really happy with the girls' attitude about being competitive and trying to give ourselves a chance in the game."
Four players combined to score Twin Rivers' 52 points.
Tori Cole tallied a team-high 19 points for the Lady Royals. Hanna Sadler recorded 13 points, Sydni Hester tallied 12 points and Lexi Stockton added eight more.
"I thought we executed pretty well and I thought they had prepared to go against our defenses," Baxter said. "I felt we dictated the first six minutes of the game because it was very low-scoring. They were having trouble because they could not find any passing lanes. We did get into some fatigue, but when we executed well and ran our offensive sets we were good."
Twin Rivers (11-4) is back in action Tuesday when it hosts East Carter County.
Twin Rivers defeated Kennett 51-25 in the junior varsity game.
Baxter hopes his team will be 100 percent soon.
"I cannot really speak to that because we are day-to-day on everything that is going on," Baxter said, when asked about the injuries. "We are always positive we can get people back for the next contest.
"We are going to St. Louis Saturday and that is a big, long trip," Baxter added. "We are just going to try to stay positive, see if we can get them healthy and finish out our week, which will be one of our bigger weeks this year."
Kennett's varsity is back in action Saturday when it competes at a St. Louis MLK Girl Powher Showcase. The showcase will take place at North Technical High School, which is located at 1700 Derhake Road in Florissant, Mo. Florissant is located in north central St. Louis.
Kennett (9-6) will play host North Technical at 1 p.m. Saturday. The MSHSAA website has North Technical's record listed as 7-3.
"They play almost a complete private school schedule," Baxter said of North Technical. "They don't play a lot of what I call publics so nobody gets to see them play because it's almost like they are in a league of their own. It's hard to find anyone that has seen them among the public school contacts I have. They play inner-city private schools and by every account that I've checked and the two calls I've got back I've learned they are competitive, but I don't know how to measure it with the competition we play against and the competition they play against. So our mentality going up there is to make them an unknown team, go in and execute our stuff, and see what happens."
The Kennett varsity girls basketball team heads to the locker room Thursday night at halftime. Kennett was outscored by 13 points in the first half against Twin Rivers Thursday night, before it won the second half by one-point. Kennett is back in action Saturday when it competes at a St. Louis MLK Girl Powher Showcase. The showcase will take place at North Technical High School, which is located at 1700 Derhake Road in Florissant, Mo. Florissant is located in north central St. Louis.
KHS 6 8 16 10 - 40
TRS 13 14 15 10 - 52
KENNETT (40) - Lara Abmeyer 8, Kenna Hounihan 12, Anna Kay Hilburn 5, Logan Vaughan 9, Courtney McElhaney 6. FG 16, FT 6/11, F 13. (3-pointers: none. Hilburn 1, Vaughan 1. Fouled out: none)
TWIN RIVERS (52) - Tori Cole 19, Sydni Hester 12, Lexi Stockton 8, Hannah Sadler 13. FG 22, FT 7/12, F 6. (3-pointers: Cole 1. Fouled out: none)