Kennett boys basketball claims title at Bulldog Classic, begins play in SEMO Conference Tournament Monday

Photo by Dustin Ward, staff
The Kennett Indians boys basketball team with its first-place plaque after winning the Bulldog Classic Thursday at Gideon High School.

GIDEON, Mo. - The Kennett Indians varsity boys basketball team is headed to the SEMO Conference Tournament on a high note after winning the Gideon Bulldog Classic for the first time.

No. 1 seeded Kennett beat the No. 2 seeded Caruthersville Tigers 77-64 in the title game of the tournament late Thursday night.

“We came out with a lot of energy and enthusiasm,” Kennett coach Andrew Halford said. “We also made some shots tonight, which we did not do our first two games of the tournament. Tonight’s a big win for us. We won games against two district opponents in this tournament. It’s nice to see that early in the year.”

Caruthersville trailed Kennett by single digits much of the first half, including 20-17 with 2:36 left in the second quarter. The Indians closed out the first half on a 15-7 run to pad its lead to 35-24 by halftime. The Indians opened the second half on a 10-2 run to increase its lead to 45-26 by the 4:18 mark of the third quarter.

“That was a big run to give us a little separation because we knew they would come back and make it a game,” Halford said.

Kennett led 59-39 at the start of the fourth quarter before Caruthersville got as close as 13 points three times in the final four minutes of regulation.

“My first group kind of went flat in the third quarter and stopped hustling,” Caruthersville coach Lamonte Bell said. “I pulled them out and put my second group in and they sparked a run for us. Unfortunately, Kennett shot the ball very well and beat us down the floor. We made a few mistakes and shot horribly from the free-throw line. But everything we did wrong tonight is correctable.”

All of Kennett’s starters scored in double digits. Forward Kobe Gates tallied a team-high 21 points. Ben McMullan added 16 points, Jackson Henfling scored 13 points and La’Quez Pulliam and Quav’aun Harrell each recorded 12 points.

Billy Cobb paced Caruthersville with 21 points. He hit four of his squads five 3-pointers.

Desmond Davis added 18 points and Brandon Fonda tallied 11 points for the Tigers.

Caruthersville (2-1) beat No. 7 seeded Clarkton 78-47 in a quarterfinal and edged No. 3 seeded Hayti 74-69 in a semifinal to reach the title game. The Tigers are back in action Tuesday when theey host Kelly.

“I’m pleased with the first week because I’ve only had my boys in the gym for about 10 days,” Bell said. “We spent the first week conditioning. We didn’t even touch the ball until three days before the tournament. We’ll get back in the gym tomorrow and get started on fixing what we messed up tonight.”

Kennett beat No. 8 seeded Delta C-7 78-23 in a quarterfinal and beat No. 4 seeded Doniphan 59-43 in a semifinal to reach the Bulldog Classic championship. It is the first time in over a decade Kennett is off to a 3-0 start.

No. 7 seeded Kennett plays No. 2 seeded Notre Dame in a quarterfinal of the SEMO Conference Tournament Monday at 8:30 p.m. at Sikeston. Other first-round games on Monday include: No. 8 seeded NMCC vs. No. 9 seeded Dexter at 5:30 p.m. and No. 3 seeded Cape Central vs. No. 6 seeded Poplar Bluff at 7 p.m. No. 4 seeded Sikeston plays No. 5 seeded Jackson Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. and No. 1 seeded Charleston plays the winner of Dexter and NMCC Tuesday at 7 p.m.

“Our kids are excited about the opportunity to play in that tournament,” Halford said. “We want to go to that thing and compete well because we didn’t do so well last year when we went up there.”

Notre Dame is off to a 2-0 start to its season. Notre Dame won at Carnahan 64-31 on Dec. 3 and won at St. Francis Borgia 61-48 Dec. 6.

“Notre Dame is very good,” Halford said. “They are as talented as they were last season and have more experience this year. They have a bunch of returners that can knock it down. They are all also a high IQ basketball team.”

No. 1 Kennett 77, No. 2 Caruthersville 64

CHS 12 12 15 25 - 64

KHS 14 22 23 18 - 77

CARUTHERSVILLE (64) - Billy Cobb 21, Jernas Wilson 4, Brandon Fonda 11, Desmond Davis 18, Zahmius Smith 8, M. Ulyssess 2. FG 27, FT 5/18, F 25. (3-pointers: Cobb 4, Fonda 1; Fouled out: Fonda).

KENNETT (77) - Quav’aun Harrell 11, Marsayv’aun Harrell 5, La’Quez Pulliam 11, Kobe Gates 21, Jackson Henfling 13, Ben McMullan 16. FG 27, FT 16/23, F 22. (3-pointers: Gates 3, McMullan 1, Harrell 3; Fouled out: None).

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: