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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Kelly captures third straight title

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Kelly players celebrate their third straight district championship.
NEW MADRID -- The Kelly Lady Hawks captured their third straight district title with a 67-52 victory over the New Madrid County Central Lady Eagles in the Class 3, District 1 final on Friday night.

Kelly opened up the contest on a 12-2 run against an inexperienced Lady Eagle team. The Lady Hawks forced NMCC to commit nine turnovers in the first quarter.

NMCC (14-14) fought back to within 14-9 when Kelly proceeded to go on a 7-0 run to up the lead to 21-9 with 1:50 left in the first.

The Lady Hawks used a full-court press and had five steals as a team in the first.

The Lady Hawks were led by sophomore forward Debra Hall and senior guard Nikki Weiny in the first quarter. Hall dominated the paint early and had eight points in the quarter, while Weiny drove hard to the basket and picked up seven points. Weiny was 3-for-6 from the line in the first. Kelly led 21-12 heading into the second quarter.

Kelly's Sarah Ruff drives to the hoop.
"We are not the biggest or quickest team," said Kelly head coach Rod McQuerter, "but we play with a tremendous heart and attitude. The girls applied great pressure and were really working on the defensive end."

NMCC started only one senior and three freshmen saw plenty of court time against Kelly.

The inexperience showed early in the contest, as the Lady Eagles committed 14 turnovers against the full-court press of the Lady Hawks.

Free throw shooting was a key to Kelly leading 39-28 at halftime. In the first half, the Lady Hawks were 11-for-16 from the foul line, while NMCC struggled going 3-for-13.

"We had some jitters early on in the game," said NMCC head coach Lance Tollison. "Kelly's experience paid off tonight. We were in unchartered waters and we made some poor decisions at times."

Hall picked up her fourth foul with 5:30 to play in the third quarter and Kelly's 39-31 lead looked to be in jeopardy. However, senior point guard Brittany Ponder stepped up for the Lady Hawks.

Kelly went on a 7-2 run after Hall sat down led by Ponder, who pumped in six quick points. Ponder scored nine of the Lady Hawks' 12 points in the third quarter. Heading into the fourth, NMCC trailed 51-37.

NMCC could not get its offense on track in the second half and settled for desperation jump-shots late in the contest. Kelly took advantage of the Lady Eagles' struggles from the floor and built a 64-44 lead with three minutes to play in the game.

"We didn't run our offense in the second half," said Tollison. "A lot of that has to do with Kelly's defense which was outstanding. They did a nice job on our freshman (Shameika Williams) and made us make some mistakes."

The Lady Hawks built their biggest lead of the game up to 67-46 with 1:35 to play. Kelly substituted their reserves the rest of the way and secured another district title.

As a team, Kelly had 14 steals and forced NMCC to commit 27 turnovers for the game. The biggest offensive factor for the Lady Hawks was at the charity stripe.

While the Lady Eagles only made 6-of-18 foul shots, Kelly drained 22 shots on 36 attempts. The Lady Hawks were 10-for-14 from the line in the final quarter.

"New Madrid is an excellent team," said McQuerter. "They are big, physical and active. It is scary they are so young. They will be a force in the district for years to come."

Ponder led Kelly with 19 points, grabbed five rebounds and had four steals. Weiny stepped up her game against the Lady Eagles and finished with 16 points (8-13 FT), seven rebounds and four steals.

Hall ended her night with 14 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Kayla Cissell gave the Lady Hawks some valuable minutes off the bench.

Cissell ended with 12 points and five rebounds. Cissell was clutch from the foul line going 8-for-10 in the contest, including 5-of-6 in the fourth quarter.

Junior Sarah Ruff provided excellent defense on NMCC leading scorer (Shameika Williams) and produced two points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals for Kelly.

Tameika Williams led the Lady Eagles with 13 points. Shameika Williams ended with 12 points, while senior Heavenly Wren ended her career for NMCC with 10 points and 11 rebounds (six offensive).

"We are making strides in our program," said Tollison. "The girls have come a long way in three years. The core of our players are coming back, so the future is bright."

Kelly (23-6) will battle the Doniphan Donettes in a Class 3 sectional game on Wednesday at 7:45 p.m. at Poplar Bluff High School.

Doniphan defeated Alton 61-59 to advance to the sectional round.