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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Doniphan ends Kelly's season, 65-50

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Kelly seniors watch as the final seconds tick off the clock.
POPLAR BLUFF - All year long, the Kelly girls basketball team has defeated opponents with their quickness and pressure defense.

But the one area they lacked, turned out to be their undoing as they were eliminated from state contention with a 65-50 loss to Doniphan on Wednesday in a Class 3 Sectional game at Poplar Bluff High School.

Doniphan (21-6) moves on to the quarterfinals where they will play Hancock (25-2) on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at the Farmington Civic Center.

Without a true post presence, Kelly simply had no answer for Doniphan's freshman phenom, Hailee Deckard.

At 5-foot-10, Deckard's size and knack for creating her own shot proved to be too much for Kelly as she pumped in 34 points on the night.

"We were just trying to contain her," said Kelly coach Rod McQuerter. "Those kind of girls you just hope to contain. She's probably one of the top freshmen in the area, and tonight she showed that. Unfortunately we couldn't guard in the post and we couldn't guard her when she ran the point. They found their strength during game and they attacked it."

But Deckard's supporting cast proved to be the ones that turned the game's momentum late in the second quarter and midway through the third.

With Kelly (24-5) leading through most of the first half, Doniphan sophomore Chelsea Swindle canned a 3-pointer with 38 seconds left to give the Donettes a 28-27 lead.

Following a missed Kelly shot, Deckard then scored on a short jumper to give Doniphan a 30-27 halftime lead.

The Lady Hawks stayed on Doniphan's heels through the third quarter until Swindle hit another 3-pointer to extend the lead to 40-31 with 3:12 remaining.

Moments later, sophomore Morgan Davis hit a 3-pointer to extend the Donettes' lead to 43-33.

"They're a very deep ball team and that's hard to prepare for when you have girls that can come off the bench and hit 3s also," said McQuerter. "Give Coach Blackwell credit, their girls were well-prepared and they played an outstanding game tonight. They have some outstanding young talent."

Doniphan took a 45-35 advantage into the fourth where they maintained the lead the rest of the way.

Kelly got as close as 49-41 on two Kelly Essner free throws with 5:27 left but they wouldn't get any closer.

Doniphan made 15-of-19 from the free throw line, including 10-of-13 from Deckard.

Davis followed up Deckard with 16 points.

Essner finished up her standout career with 26 points, including 10-of-12 from the free throw line.

No other Kelly player reached double figures. Brittany Ponder followed up with seven points.

Kelly will lose four seniors to graduation: Essner, Jessica Burnett, Stephanie Hency and Rachel Kline.

"It's tough to lose these kind of seniors. We've coached these girls for six years. Who'd have ever thought Kelly High School would be playing for a sectional championship or have a record of 24-5? These girls surprised people every single year. Six years ago these seniors went 0-24 in middle school basketball. And yet to improve in six years, I just love these girls to death."

Kelly captured two district championships in three years with the current senior class.

"All the teams we lost to were state-ranked and they won their district," said McQuerter. "You cannot hold your head down on this season. This was one of the best seasons we've had at Kelly High School. Yes, we're disappointed, but we're not going to hold our heads down. We want to try to come back next year and do it again."