BROSELEY, Mo. - The Kennett Indians varsity girls basketball team ran into a defensive buzz saw Wednesday night as it attempted to attack the New Madrid County Central Eagles' full-court pressure defense in a championship quarterfinal contest at the Twin Rivers Lady Royals Classic.
Seventh-seeded Kennett fell behind second-seeded New Madrid County Central 12-0 less than four minutes into the first quarter and never caught up after. The Eagles limited the Indians to just six field goals in the final 24 minutes of the game on its way to a convincing 77-30 win against Kennett.
"We just did not execute well," Kennett coach Rod Baxter said. "We knew their defensive sets and prepared to attack them in practice. We committed early turnovers and did not get into their press. It got us out of our offense. New Madrid's press was very effective and caused us all kinds of grief.
"We were down eight or ten with six minutes left in the half," Baxter continued. "I told my assistant 'we need to get this to five by halftime. 'Then it got to 15 and then 20. Against a team like New Madrid that takes the ball to the hoop it's hard to come from behind because you cannot get to the rim often enough yourself because they go to the rim every time."
New Madrid County Central had six players combine for 49 points in the first half. The Eagles ended the first half on a 24-2 run and entered halftime with a 49-17 lead.
"We wanted to come out and play four quarters of fast-paced basketball," New Madrid County Central coach David Crockett said. "We wanted to press and see how they could handle it. I thought we pretty well dominated about every aspect of the game."
Anna Kay Hilburn led Kennett in scoring with 10 points. Hilburn scored all of her points in the first quarter and calculated both of the Indians' 3-pointers.
"She was getting her shots early out of our offensive sets," Baxter said of Hilburn's offensive dominance early in the game. "But the point of that is we never got deeper into our offense than that. That is the tale right there because we share the ball. We didn't have any scoring early so she took it upon herself to attack their best player with the basketball. She drew some fouls on her early and hit some shots. We like the senior leadership she provided.
"She was very sick at halftime and could not start the second half," Baxter continued. "She wanted to get back in, but I thought it was in her best interest to give her a little rest tonight."
Benesha Childress tallied a field goal in every quarter on her way to a game-high 29 points for New Madrid County Central. Karen McGloson added 18 points and Rashaunda Summers scored 16 points for the Eagles.
Kennett (7-3) will look to advance to the fifth-place championship game when it takes on sixth-seeded Naylor in a semifinal contest of the fifth-place bracket Friday at 8 p.m. Third-seeded Neelyville beat sixth-seeded Naylor 54-33 in its championship quarterfinal contest Tuesday.
New Madrid County Central will look to advance to the championship of the tournament for the first time since 2000 when it takes on Neelyville in a championship semifinal Friday at 6:30 p.m. Top-seeded Dexter will play fourth-seeded Clearwater in the other championship semifinal Thursday at 6:30 p.m. The championship is slated for Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
"We are just taking it one game at a time," Crockett said. "We'll see what happens. We've got to get ready for Neelyville on Friday."