Strong first half carries Kennett girls basketball past Portageville 44-27

Photo by Dustin Ward, staff
Kennett's Kyra Jaco handles the ball in a varsity girls basketball game against Portageville Thursday night at Kennett High School.

KENNETT, Mo. - The Kennett Indians varsity girls basketball team built a 21-9 lead by halftime and led by double digits throughout the second half as it beat the visiting Portageville Bulldogs 44-27 Thursday night.

Photo by Dustin Ward, staff
Portageville’s Amiyah Saxton looks to make a pass in a varsity girls basketball game at Kennett Thursday night.

The Indians' defense limited the Bulldogs to just 11 2-point field goals.

Photo by Dustin Ward, staff
Portageville senior Jauslyn Johnson handles the ball in a varsity girls basketball game at Kennett Thursday night.

“I thought our defense was pretty good with the exception of a little stretch at the end of the game when we gave up some easy buckets,” Kennett coach Aaron New said. “We still had some rebounding issues. I’m going to have to do a better job of coaching rebounding. But overall I was proud of our girls’ effort on defense.”

Photo by Dustin Ward, staff
Kennett's Caroline Patton eyes the Portageville defense in a varsity girls basketball game at Kennett Thursday night.

Portageville increased its offensive output as the game progressed. The Bulldogs put up 18 points in the second half after scoring nine points in the first half and played Kennett to a 10-10 stalemate in the fourth quarter.

“Earlier in the game, we were struggling to score,” Portageville coach Kellye Fowler said. “Kennett plays a really good, aggressive zone. We’ve struggled against it all season. I stressed to the girls that they needed to get ball-movement and then attack gaps. They had some success with that late in the game. It just took us a while to get started.”

Kennett sophomore guard Kyra Jaco and junior forward Caroline Patton both heated up offensively in the second half. Jaco recorded nine of her 14 points after halftime and Patton tallied eight of her dozen points in the third quarter.

Jaco hit three of her four 3-pointers in the second half.

“I thought we did a good job of moving the ball and getting some open shots,” New said. “Kyra got several open looks and knocked them down tonight. That helped get our offense going.”

Three players combined to score all of Portageville’s points. Freshman Amiyah Saxton tallied 10 points on five 2-point baskets, senior Garielle Madison scored 10 points on four 2-point baskets and two free throws, and senior Jauslyn Johnson scored seven points on two 2-point buckets and three free throws.

“We’ve struggled to score all season,” Fowler said. “We had a freshman step up tonight and score more than she’s been scoring. My two seniors came on late and scored some as well. We are working on improving our offense. We just got off to a slow start tonight.”

Kennett (11-9) hosts Sikeston Monday. Sikeston beat Kennett 50-26 in a consolation semifinal of the SEMO Confernce Tournament on Dec. 3.

“We played one of our worst halves of the year the first time we played them,” New said. “We need to have a couple of good practices before Monday. If we can do that I think we have an opportunity to try to get a win against a quality SEMO Conference team.”

Portageville (5-11) begins play in the Bootheel Conference Tournament Monday at South Pemiscot High School. No. 4 seeded Caruthersville plays No. 5 seeded Portageville Monday at 5 p.m. Caruthersville won the first meeting against Portageville 47-36 on Jan. 10.

“Our focus from now until Monday is on Caruthersville,” Fowler said. “We played them early in January. It was a pretty tight game. We were down three going into the fourth quarter and they pulled away late. Our girls are fired up that they are going to get another shot at Caruthersville. We know we have to play good defense because they are very fast on offense.”

Kennett 44, Portageville 27

PHS 7 2 8 10 - 27

KHS 12 9 13 10 - 44

PORTAGEVILLE (27) - Garielle Madison 10, Amiyah Saxton 10, Jauslyn Johnson 7. FG 11, FT 5/7, F 8. (3-pointers: None; Fouled out: None).

KENNETT (44) - Taleigh Harrell 4, Caroline Patton 12, Kyra Jaco 14, Kaniya Madlock 8, Ara Spielman 6. FG 17, FT 5/7, F 11. (3-pointers: Jaco 4, Madlock 1; Fouled out: None).

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