BENTON - The Kelly Lady Hawks basketball team defeated the Sikeston Lady Bulldogs at home on Thursday night, 55-36.
The Lady Hawks forced Sikeston to commit 31 turnovers in the contest and came up with 16 steals with solid full-court pressure.
"I was a little worried heading into this game," said Kelly head coach Rod McQuerter. "It was our first game back after the Christmas break and sometimes the girls still have their Christmas legs. I was proud of the way our girls worked and played tonight."
Sikeston jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter with strong inside play from senior Latoya Gipson and 6-foot-2 freshman Monika Gray-el. The duo scored eight of the Sikeston's 12 points in the first and led 12-10 after the quarter.
With Gipson and Gray-el, Sikeston outrebounded Kelly 9-1 in the first quarter.
"I thought the girls played a lot better tonight," said Sikeston head coach Homer Jackson. "Monika played well and you have to remember she is only a freshman. She is just learning how to play the game. Monika is getting a hang of it and that is a good sign for the team."
Kelly responded in the second quarter by outscoring the Lady Bulldogs 18-6. Senior Nikki Weiny jump started the Lady Hawks in the second with nine points off the bench.
Kelly also forced Sikeston to commit eight turnovers in the quarter and led 28-18 at halftime.
The Lady Hawks reversed the rebounding advantage from the first quarter, by outrebounding the Lady Bulldogs 9-3 in the second quarter.
Kelly raced out to a 36-22 lead with five minutes to play in the third quarter, but the Lady Bulldogs responded with a 6-0 run halfway through the quarter and played the Lady Hawks even the rest of the third. Kelly led 38-28 heading into the final quarter.
The Lady Hawks steadily pulled away from Sikeston in the fourth quarter by constantly hitting the 15-foot jumper and making the Lady Bulldogs turn the ball over with their full-court pressure.
Sikeston committed 13 turnovers in the fourth quarter while scoring only eight points. Kelly pumped in 17 points in the quarter and gained the 55-36 victory.
"Coach Jackson has those girls playing hard over there and it was a struggle tonight," said McQuerter. "They are tall and athletic and they packed that zone down in the first half. Our girls started to hit their jump shots late. I was pleased that the girls were not afraid to take the shot when they had it."
Weiny and Debra Hall led Kelly with 12 points apiece. Hall also ended her night with seven rebounds and four assists from her post position.
Point guard Brittany Ponder continued her steady play for the Lady Hawks and finished with 10 points, eight steals, five assists and four rebounds. Junior Sarah Ruff chipped in eight points, seven rebounds and had four steals.
Gray-el led Sikeston with 14 points and hauled down six rebounds. Senior Latoya Gipson recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Point guard Amber Minner recorded seven points and dished out four assists for the Lady Bulldogs.
"I think the girls are headed in the right direction after what I saw out on the floor tonight," said Jackson. "The girls are working hard and are starting to come around to a new s
Kelly (8-2) will participate in the Scott-Miss. Conference Tournament next week at Oran. The Lady Hawks will face the Chaffee Red Devils in the first round on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
Sikeston (1-8) faces Caruthersville at home on Monday at 6 p.m.