Doniphan girls basketball overcomes 22-point deficit against NMCC to claim first district title since 2007

Photo by Dustin Ward, staff
Doniphan players celebrate after winning its first district title in girls basketball since 2007 Friday night at Kennett High School.

KENNETT, Mo. - A couple of minutes into the third quarter Doniphan Donettes coach Adam Epps elected to change defenses after the New Madrid County Central Eagles scored the first six points of the second half to pad its lead to 42-20.

Photo by Dustin Ward, staff
Doniphan’s Kendra Moore reacts after her team rallied from 22 points down to beat New Madrid County Central 54-53 in the Class 3, District 1 girls basketball title game Friday night at Kennett High School.

“We knew we had to do something different,” Epps said. “Guarding them one-on-one was not enough so we started trapping. Our kids did a great job of executing a defense we hadn’t even worked on much in practice. Once we started trapping we got some deflections and things started to go our way.”

Photo by Dustin Ward, staff
Doniphan players celebrate after winning its first district title in girls basketball since 2007 Friday night at Kennett High School.

Doniphan managed to cut a 22-point deficit to 44-34 by the start of the fourth quarter and continued to enjoy success the rest of the way. No. 2 seeded Doniphan outscored No. 1 seeded New Madrid County Central 20-9 in the fourth quarter as it rallied for a 54-53 victory in the Class 3, District 1 championship at Kennett High School.

Photo by Dustin Ward, staff
Doniphan’s Brooklynn Klepzig drives to the basket against the New Madrid County Central defense in the Class 3, District 1 title game Friday night at Kennett High School.

“Coming from behind 22 is pretty stinking exciting,” Epps said. “Our girls are a fun group to coach. At halftime, we talked about the fact we didn’t have much to lose down 16 points so just go play. Some young kids stepped up and got some deflections in the second half and we put together a great comeback.”

Photo by Dustin Ward, staff
New Madrid County Central's Ayannah Ruff handles the ball against the Doniphan defense in the Class 3, District 1 girls basketball championship Friday night at Kennett High School.

Doniphan trailed 53-40 when it burned its final timeout with 4:12 remaining. New Madrid County Central never scored again after the timeout.

Photo by Dustin Ward, staff
New Madrid County Central's Alivia Hartman handles the ball against the Doniphan defense in the Class 3, District 1 girls basketball championship Friday night at Kennett High School.

“Anytime there were timeouts we were always cheering people on,” Doniphan freshman Brooklynn Klepzig said. “We were always there for each other and just kept going.”

Photo by Dustin Ward, staff
Doniphan's Emily Ederer (31) and New Madrid County Central's Mastajah Walker (32) eye a rebound in the Class 3, District 1 girls basketball championship Friday night at Kennett High School.

Doniphan took its only lead of the second half with six seconds remaining when Bailey Carson drove to the basket and made a contested shot.

“I told myself that someone has to do this,” Carson said of the game-winning shot. “I had been telling my team we’ve got this. It is in our hands. Then I ended up with the ball and realized it was actually in my hands and I had to push the ball and try to make a basket or get fouled.”

New Madrid County Central called a timeout after Carson’s field goal. The Eagles attempted to push the ball the length of the floor after the timeout and get a shot off but Doniphan deflected the ball near half court and time ran out.

“Ady Jones got the deflection at the end that iced it,” Epps said. “You count on seniors in moments like that. And after she got that deflection it was game over.”

New Madrid County Central built a 17-7 lead less than six minutes into the first quarter. Doniphan cut the deficit to 19-13 by the start of the second quarter and continued to trail by six at 21-15 with 6:16 left in the first half. The Eagles followed with a 15-5 run to pad its lead to 36-20 by halftime.

The Eagles’ offense tallied hit 13 of 16 free throws before halftime but made just three of eight shots from the charity stripe in the second half.

“We can guard,” Carson said. “We just had to get the nerves out. We had some players step up on defense tremendously in the second half.”

Carson, a sophomore, hit nine 2-point field goals to pace Doniphan with 18 points.

Junior Olivia Cruetz hit two of Doniphan’s three treys. Cruetz finished with 14 points.

Senior post player Emily Ederer and freshman post player Klepzig added eight points each for the Donettes.

“Our main scorers didn’t score as much tonight,” Epps said. “But other girls stepped up. That’s what a dangerous team does this time of the year.”

Juniors Alivia Hartman and Ayannah Ruff paced the Eagles with 19 and 14 points respectfully. Hartman scored 15 points before halftime and Ruff tallied 11 of her points before the second half.

New Madrid County Central finishes its season with a record of 20-7. It graduates one senior - Shaniah Word.

It is the first time Doniphan has won a district title in girls basketball since 2007.

“This is amazing,” Klepzig said. “We work so hard as a team every day in practice. We’ve ran around the softball field 15 times in the rain. We worked so hard to get to this spot and I just knew we could do it tonight.”

Doniphan (22-7) will take on Saxony Lutheran in a Class 3 sectional Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Dexter High School. Saxony Lutheran (17-11) beat West County 65-52 in the District 2 championship Friday night.

“It’s crazy,” Klepzig said. “I cannot explain it but we are also so happy and ready for the next round.”

No. 2 Doniphan 54, No. 1 NMCC 53

DHS 13 7 14 20 - 54

NMC 19 17 8 9 - 53

DONIPHAN (54) - Jaylin Dutton 2, Sydni Speck 2, Bailey Carson 18, Olivia Cruetz 14, Emily Ederer 8, Alison Skaggs 2, Brooklyn Klepzig 8. FG 24, FT 3/10, F 21. (3-pointers: Cruete 2, Klepzig 1; Fouled out: Ederer).

NMCC (53) - Shakyra Wright 7, Isis Ducker 2, Jimmya Caldwell Newson 7, Ayannah Ruff 14, Alivia Hartman 19, Mastajah Walker 4. FG 17, FT 17/25, F 13. (3-pointers: Wright 1, Caldwell-Newson 1; Fouled out: None).

Photo by Dustin Ward, staff
The Doniphan varsity girls basketball team with its first-place plaque after winning Class 3, District 1 Friday night at Kennett High School.
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