Kelly looked to exact some sectional play revenge on Doniphan, who defeated the Lady Hawks the last two seasons in the first round of the playoffs. The Donettes came into the contest ranked No. 4 in Class 3 and a raucous crowd greeted the two clubs at Peters Gymnasium.
The game was pretty much even throughout as each team made runs in the first two quarters. Kelly had an 8-2 run to end the first quarter and led 16-11 heading into the second. Sophomore forward Debra Hall led the Lady Hawks with eight points in the first.
In the second quarter, the Donettes took advantage of Kelly point guard Brittany Ponder hitting the bench after her third foul. Trailing 22-17 before the foul trouble of Ponder, Doniphan went on a 9-1 run late in the quarter and led 26-23 with 30 seconds left in the first half.
Doniphan led 26-25 at the half, as they took advantage of nine Kelly turnovers in the second quarter to gain the edge heading into the locker room.
Kelly still trailed 38-37 heading into the fourth quarter after both teams scored 12 points apiece in the third quarter.
The Donettes led 40-39 with 6:50 to go in the contest, when Kelly went on an 8-0 run to take a 47-40 lead with 4:45 left in the fourth quarter. Hall got four quick points in the paint to lead the run.
"We didn't play well in stretches," said Doniphan head coach Jimbo Blackwell. "Give Kelly credit, they did a great job of taking us out of things we like to do. I felt good about our chances after the third quarter, but in the fourth we stopped rebounding and they took advantage."
Senior Morgan Davis would not let the Donettes go down without a fight. Trailing by seven, Davis scored six of Doniphan's eight points in the fourth and made a short jumper with 30 seconds left in the game to cut Kelly's lead down to 47-46.
On the Lady Hawks next offensive possession, Angela Rodgers picked up a big steal for Doniphan with 25 seconds on the clock. The Donettes quickly worked the ball around to Davis, whose running jumper with 20 seconds rimmed out.
Kelly's Kayla Cissell fought for the rebound with a Donette player and induced a jump-ball call from the officials. The possession arrow favored the Lady Hawks.
The Donettes had to foul Ponder three times in the span of five seconds to put Kelly on the free throw line. Ponder, in what could have been her final game of her career, was sent to the line with 9.8 seconds left in the contest for a 1-and-1. The senior calmly sank both attempts to put the Lady Hawks up 49-46.
"As I went to the line," said Ponder, "I knew I could seal it for the team. I wanted to hit the shots for my teammates and I went through my normal routine at the line and nailed them."
Doniphan (23-6) had some time left to try and tie the game and send it into overtime, but Davis decided to drive the baseline and get a quick two points instead. Davis' shot rimmed out and another opportunity by the Donettes didn't hit the mark when the buzzer sounded. Kelly's team and fans went crazy with joy after revenging previous playoff losses to Doniphan.
"Doniphan has a great team and it feels great to finally get past them," said Ponder, "especially in my senior year. Since Day 1, this is what we have practiced and worked so hard for, one game away from final four."
Davis led the Donettes with 20 points and she worked hard for every one. Junior Sarah Ruff, with her endless energy, got the call from McQuerter to hound Davis all over the floor. Davis got her points, but Ruff definitely made her work for it.
"I didn't want her to get the ball," said Ruff. "She (Davis) got some looks, but I wanted to make it difficult for her. I had to fight through double screens and sometimes triple screens it seemed, but I wanted this win badly."
Doniphan point guard Jaysa Blackwell ended her junior campaign with 13 points. Rodgers led Doniphan with nine rebounds. The Donettes were beaten soundly on the boards by Kelly, 36-22.
"It is a tough loss and once again rebounding was the key," said Blackwell. "We have had problems all year long rebounding. For a two minute stretch in the fourth quarter we didn't rebound and it cost us six or eight points. We can't have those stretches and expect to win a playoff game. It just won't happen."
Hall led Kelly with 16 points and grabbed six rebounds. Cissell came up big off the bench for the Lady Hawks with 10 points and seven rebounds (four offensive).
Besides being the defensive stopper for Kelly, Ruff had a good night on the offensive end as well. Ruff ended with nine points and nine rebounds. Ponder finished with seven points, seven rebounds and three assists.
"We played real well as a team," said McQuerter. "Doniphan has a hall of fame coach and program. I have to give Kent Mangles and assistant coach Tim Scifres all the credit for having the girls ready to play on defense. The girls worked on defense and hit the boards hard. Kelly (24-6) will face Metro St. Louis (25-4) in the quarterfinals on Saturday at 7:45 p.m. at the Farmington Civic Center. Metro defeated Park Hills Central 61-26 to reach the second round of playoffs.