BENTON -- The Kelly Hawks held on to defeat the Portageville Bulldogs 56-51 on Tuesday.
While holding a slim one-point advantage at 52-51, the host Hawks held the Bulldogs scoreless in the final 2 minutes, 30 seconds to clinch the victory.
"We didn't have any legs," said Portageville coach Jim Bidewell, of his team's performance down the stretch. "We were a little tired and they were in better shape than we were and I take the blame for that. We're not very big, so we don't have a choice but to be in top shape in the fourth quarter to be able to shoot it."
Trailing by four at 49-45, Portageville, on Cory Chamberlain's 3-pointer, whittled the margin to one at 49-48 at the 6-minute mark of the fourth quarter.
An apparent made free throw to tie was waved off on a lane violation, then two more misses from the line by Portageville kept Kelly on top.
With about 3:00 to go, Tony Brown's field goal lifted the Bulldogs to their first lead since the opening quarter at 50-49.
But on the ensuing possession, Kelly's Brandon Ayers swished a 3-pointer from the left wing for a 52-50 lead. Ayers' shot proved to be the gamewinner.
The Bulldogs hit 1-of-2 free throws with 2:36 left, but could get no closer. Kelly managed no other field goals down the stretch either, but capitalized at the line, hitting 4-of-8 free-throw attempts. Jacob Glastetter's two free throws with 37.8 seconds left gave the Hawks a little more breathing room at 55-51.
But, it was Kelly's second-quarter effort that caught the eye of coach Cory Johnson.
"Our defensive intensity in the second quarter was, basically, what won us the game," he said. "It got us back in it and up by 11."
Down 10-1 early in the first quarter, the Hawks regrouped to take a 14-13 lead as the period ended, then rolled to a 35-24 advantage at the half. Ayers scored six of his team-high 18 points and Dallas Tew also tallied six of his nine in the second period to lead the Kelly charge.
Portageville, behind Trey Mosby's 13 points, narrowed the gap to 44-40 going into the final quarter.
Mosby led all scorers with 28 points on a variety of mid-range jumpers, stickbacks and 9-of-12 accuracy from the charity stripe.
Turnover-prone in two previous losses, the Hawks turned it over 16 times while the Bulldogs had 12 miscues.
"I saw a little improvement as far as turnovers," said Johnson. "Our main point of emphasis the last two days of practice has been rebounding and taking care of the basketball."
Kelly held a 31-22 rebounding edge, led by the 10 caroms of Jordan Felter. Brown led Portageville with eight.
Kelly's Russell Carroll chipped in with nine points, all from beyond the arc.
Chamberlain was Portageville's second leading scorer with 11.
"Give credit to Kelly, they came out ready to play and we came out living on our last ballgame," said Bidewell, referring to his Bulldogs' 64-41 win over rival Kennett on Friday. "We got woke up, a little humble pie."
Said Johnson, whose Hawks evened their season record at 2-2, "It's a huge win for us against a team like Portageville. Coach Bidewell does a great job, year in and year out, so anytime you can get a win against a team like Portageville, that's a big win."
Kelly hosts St. Vincent on Friday, while Portageville (1-1) entertains Hayti, also on Friday.