KENNETT -- Good teams always find a way to advance. The top-seeded Portageville Bulldogs didn't have their A-game against the fifth-seeded Malden Green Wave in the semifinals of the Bootheel Conference Tournament Tuesday night.
However, Willie Hassell led the Bulldogs past the Green Wave 63-41 and will face South Pemiscot tonight at 7:30. The Green Wave were held to 14 points in the second half of the game.
Jordan Penn chipped in 17 points and nine rebounds in the contest as Portageville had 10 players to score.
Jordan Beaird led all scores with 19.
As the contest progressed into the second quarter, Portageville seemed to have a lot better luck of shooting the basketball.
During the first quarter, Malden controlled the temp of the game and led 14-11 after one.
Portageville doesn't have the size to matchup with most teams, however, they are fundamentally sound and have some outstanding role players.
For instance, Patrick Morton's only three-pointer in the contest came at the biggest time when Portageville's starting lineup was on the bench for a much-needed breather.
Hassell drained two threes from the top of the key to extend the Portageville advantage to 30-24 with 40 seconds remaining in the first half.
However, Malden's Alonzo Louis and Ryan Criglar came up with two huge steals and lay-ins on the Green Wave's next two possessions.
Jimmy Larry found Penn on the far side for a three at the buzzer than sent the Bulldogs into the intermission leading 33-28.
The Green Wave shot 17-of-44 (39 percent) for the game, nevertheless, had trouble finding the bottom of the net in the third quarter.
Antonio Scott scored all eight of his points in the third quarter and the Bulldogs extending their advantage to double-digits 47-35 going into the final period.
Portageville head coach Jim Bidewell said the third quarter was the difference in the game.
"We came out and shot the ball a little better (to start the second half," Bidewell said. "It looked like it had a lid on it and it just didn't go in for them and when that happens, it moralizes you as a team. Because they were getting some good shots they just weren't falling, so that is the name of the game because it has got to go in the hole. We were fortunate to get the win."
The Bulldogs' execution on offense was a major spark in the contest.
"I was really proud of the way we worked our offense tonight," Bidewell said. "We were patient, didn't get in a panic mode, of course, we have been down so much all year in the first quarter so we are used to it. But, I wish we wouldn't start games like that, but as long as you finish the way we do that is the main thing."
Portageville has got to handle the ball better than they did against Malden because 19 turnovers is hard to overcome.
"That is quite a bit (turnovers), that is more than we are used to getting," Bidewell said. "Some of that has to do with their quickness, and some of it to our bad decisions. In order for us to win a championship, we are going to have to cut that considerably."
Spencer Martin only had two points in the game, however, pulled down 10 huge rebounds.
Malden head coach Jeremy Siebert was pleased with his team's effort, but the rim was unkind.
"I felt like we had our intensity good for four quarters," Siebert said.
"We didn't make any shots the second half. When you score 14 points in a half, you are not going to come out of the right side of it, especially against Portageville. We just have to keep playing hard, try to knock down some more shots, hopefully we can get more close to them at districts. Hopefully, we will get another shot at them."
Hassell is the kind of player that any coach has to respect.
"He (Hassell) took over and knocked shots down," Siebert said. "He is a great senior point guard. We have just got to take our hats off to them."
A key difference in the contest was the Bulldogs' plus 12 (34-22) rebounding advantage.