MORLEY -- Scott County Central pulled a mild upset with a 57-43 win over Kelly in Scott-Mississippi Conference girls basketball action on Monday night.
"That was a big win for us," said Scott Central coach Semona Penrod, whose team improved to 14-4, 4-0 in the conference. "I knew we could beat them if we played our game."
The victory avenged a 51-42 loss to the Lady Hawks in the championship game of the Scott-Mississippi Conference Tournament in January.
"Defense was the difference," said Penrod. "We did a better job guarding (Kelly) Essner tonight. The last time we played them, she beat us by herself."
Essner, Kelly's leading scorer, poured in 33 points in the initial meeting between the two squads. The Bravettes held Essner to 17 last night.
Scott Central opened with a rush, taking a commanding 19-6 first-quarter lead with a high-energy floor game.
"We did not match their intensity or their effort," said Kelly coach Rod McQuerter. "Scott Central was a better team tonight…flat out better. They wanted it more than we did."
However, as expected, the proud Kelly ladies were simply unwilling to fold.
The Hawks regrouped to cut the margin to four at the half, 25-21.
During the Hawks 15-6 second-quarter rally, the Bravettes were forced to sit starting sophomore guard Brittney Peet with two fouls for most of the period. "That makes a little bit of difference in the way the team plays," said Penrod. "When she was out, we kind of fell apart there for a little bit."
The Hawks opened the third period with four quick points to tie the contest at 25.
The Bravettes were also up to the challenge, retaking the lead before two consecutive 3-pointers by Essner pulled the Hawks to within three at 35-32. Kelly captured its first lead of the ballgame at 36-35 with 2:40 to go in the third quarter.
Again, Scott Central answered the call with a 5-0 run to scramble back into the lead. The Bravettes led 40-38 going into the fourth quarter.
The fourth period was all Scott Central. Kelly's frigid shooting combined with a pesky Bravette defense, which created several turnovers, led to a 17-4 Scott Central advantage.
"They played with great intensity," said Penrod. "We changed our game a little bit tonight. Usually, we press, but tonight we saved most of our energy for our half-court defense and it paid off."
Peet scored seven of her 15 total in the fourth and Janet Penrod added six, including four big free throws in the final minute. Penrod finished with 13 points.
Scott Central's Trice Johnson led with a game-high 18 points -- 13 in the first half.
Behind Essner's team-high 17, Brittany Ponder added 11.
Adding to Kelly's woes was a miserable 7-of-16 (43.7 percent) performance from the free-throw line. Scott Central went 12-of-20 (60 percent).
Said coach Penrod, "Last time we played it was just the opposite. They hit all the free throws and we didn't."
Kelly fell to 18-4, 4-1 in the conference.
McQuerter said, "Take nothing away. The girls are still having a tremendous season. Now they have to understand that they had a bad game and learn from it. We're going to see how they're going to handle adversity."
Kelly defeated Scott Central 41-23 in the junior varsity game.
Kelly stays on the road against Delta on Thursday, while Scott Central hosts Chaffee on Thursday. Both are conference matchups.