SCOTT CITY -- Kelly ruled the first half, then withstood a torrid second-half comeback by Scott City to post a 79-73 Scott-Mississippi Conference win on Tuesday.
The victory, Kelly's fourth straight and eighth in nine games, kept the Hawks' conference record unblemished at 3-0 and raised their overall ledger to 14-5.
Scott City fell to 13-8, 4-2 in the conference. Scott County Central now assumes sole possession of second place with a 4-1 mark.
"This was a big win for us," said Kelly coach Cory Johnson. "I told the guys we hold our destiny in our own hands as far as the conference goes and we're still in the running for a good district seed."
Kelly closes out its conference schedule against East Prairie on Friday, followed by Delta and Oran in the final week of the regular season. East Prairie, victims of a five-game losing skid, was the last team to defeat the Hawks, a 56-54 win in the semifinals of the Scott-Mississippi Conference Tournament in January.
Kelly, shooting 57 percent overall including 6-of-10 from 3-point range, ran to a 46-26 halftime lead against the lethargic Rams.
"They let us get out and run and get loose on 'em and that's what we do best, that's the way we score best," said Johnson.
Scott City coach Lance Amick was at a loss to explain his team's sluggish start in a contest with such strong conference implications.
"It doesn't matter what a coach tells a team before a conference game or championship game, if you're not fired up to play, there's something wrong with you," he said.
The Rams regrouped and played with urgency in the second half, outscoring Kelly 47-33, to make it interesting down the stretch.
"I don't know what made the difference," said Amick. "I didn't yell a word at halftime. I guess the kids just decided they wanted to play and show a little pride in themselves."
Said Johnson, "In the second half, coach Amick did a nice job of switching things up. They put that little press on and we didn't have much of a problem breaking it, but it broke our offensive flow and kept us from getting up and down the floor."
The Deason twins, Kendal and Kent, once again paced the Hawks as they combined for 51 points.
Kendal scored 20 of his 30 in the second half, including 16 of the team's 19 total in the fourth-quarter. He converted 9-of-10 crucial free-throw attempts and hit the Hawks only field goals, two 2-pointers and a trey, in the period.
Kent, questionable at game time with a sprained ankle, fought off the injury to score 21 points, 17 in the first half.
"He came out and played a heck of a game," said Johnson.
Michael Glastetter chipped in with 14 points for the Hawks.
Scott City's all-stater Mark Dannenmueller and teammate Mark Johnston led the Rams' second-half charge.
Dannenmueller tallied 21 of his game-high 33 points and Johnston added 14 of his 17 total in the second half. The duo scored 22 of their team's 26 fourth-quarter points. Scott City cut the margin to 13, 60-47, as the third quarter expired, but never got closer than the final margin of six in the fourth quarter.
The Rams more aggressive second-half play was not without a price -- 17 second-half fouls which placed the Hawks in the double bonus early in the fourth quarter.
Said Amick, "They were in the double bonus and they hit their free throws. If they don't hit those, we may creep back in it early in the fourth quarter rather than late." Scott City hosts Bloomfield on Friday.