Bootheel Conference Boys Basketball Semifinal: No. 7 Senath-Hornersville knocks off No. 6 South Pemiscot 56-51

Photo by Dustin Ward, staff
Senath-Hornersville's No. 1 Drake King (front) celebrates after his team beat South Pemiscot 56-51 in a semifinal of the Bootheel Conference varsity boys basketball tournament Tuesday at South Pemiscot High School.

STEELE, Mo. - Senath-Hornersville Lions coach Corbin Clark had a good feeling heading into Tuesday’s conference semifinal against the South Pemiscot Bulldogs after a stellar practice Monday.

“I think the win on Saturday against Campbell propelled us,” Clark said. “We had a good day of practice Monday and I really felt good about the matchup coming into tonight because of our preparation. There are times when I don’t think this group has prepared well. But I thought we had one of our best practices of the year Monday.”

The preparation paid off for the Lions for a second straight game at the Bootheel Conference Tournament. No. 7 seeded Senath-Hornersville, fresh off a quarterfinal win against No. 2 seeded Campbell Saturday, upset the No. 6 seeded South Pemiscot Bulldogs 56-51 in a semifinal Tuesday.

“We weren’t 100 percent sharp tonight,” Clark said. “We turned the ball over too much at their place. But we made the plays at the end. I think teams have to develop a knack for that. We haven’t had it all season but we are starting to find it now.”

Senath-Hornersville guard Parker Rhew, who finished with a team-high 20 points, scored eight points in the first quarter to help his squad build an 18-12 lead by the start of the second quarter.

“He really carried us early,” Clark said of Rhew.

South Pemiscot won the second quarter 11-10 to cut the deficit to 28-23 by halftime and got as close as three points a couple of times early in the second half.

Senath-Hornersville center Isai Lopez responded with six of his eight points in the closing minutes of the third quarter to help the Lions pad its lead to 43-36 by the start of the fourth quarter.

“Isai Lopez is a load inside,” Clark said. “I think he wears on teams as the game goes on. Teams are able to bang with him in the early stages but in the back half of the game he wears on teams and forces them to foul him.”

South Pemiscot cut Senath-Hornersville’s lead as close as four points five times in the fourth quarter but never caught the upset-minded Lions.

“I think the guys are starting to believe a little bit,” Clark said. “We’ve been right on the verge of getting a win in this conference all season. We just needed to get over the hump. We’ve had some struggles defensively but I know we’ve got some pieces offensively. We just had to mix things up and find a way to get defensive stops. I think that’s been key for us down the stretch over the last week."

South Pemiscot senior guards Khalal Rogers and Noah Willingham both finished with 17 points. Rogers scored all but two of his points before the start of the fourth quarter. Willingham delivered early and late with a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter and four 2-point buckets in the fourth quarter.

Clark said he switched defenses in the second half after Rogers recorded his 15th point.

“We had an idea what we wanted to do against him,” Clark said. “He’s so good at getting to the middle of the floor and we wanted to keep him out of the middle. We changed to a Box and 1 in the third quarter and put Jaxon Lane on him. His role has been to guard the other team’s best player for us and I thought he had some defensive success late in the second half tonight.”

Senath-Hornersville (12-9) will take on No. 1 seeded Hayti in the championship Friday at 7:30 p.m. Hayti beat Senath-Hornersville 52-47 on Dec. 2 and 55-44 on Jan. 7.

“They are extremely athletic and talented,” Clark said. “They are also a beast in our conference. It will be tough but we are playing with house money. A lot of people didn’t think we would get this far. But I like the way our guys are playing right now so we will do the best we can to prepare for Hayti the next two days and try to give ourselves a shot on Friday.”

Clark hopes the entire community travels to South Pemiscot High School Friday night to watch Senath-Hornersville attempt to claim its first Bootheel Conference Tournament championship at the varsity level since 1998.

“We would love to see as many of our fans as possible make the trip over so we can make this as close to a home team environment as possible,” he said. “We are going to need a lot of support. It’s going to need to be a community-wide thing if we are going to pull this off Friday night.”

No. 7 Senath-Hornersville 56, No. 6 South Pemiscot 51

SHS 18 10 15 13 - 56

SPS 12 11 13 15 - 51

SENATH-HORNERSVILLE (56) - Parker Rhew 20, Drake King 7, Jaxon Layne 5, Knolan Hunter 10, Jordan Coronado 2, Landon King 2, Jesus Luna 2, Isai Lopez 8. FG 22, FT 11/17, F 13. (3-pointers: Drake King 1; Fouled out: None).

SOUTH PEMISCOT (51) - Noah Willingham 17, P.J. Rollings 3, Khalal Rogers 17, Terryon Johnson 8, Shawn Kinon 2, Ashton Thompson 3, Kenneth Johnson 1. FG 20, FT 8/12, F 15. (3-pointers: Willingham 2, Rogers 1; Fouled out: Rollings).

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