(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
PORTAGEVILLE -- Portageville senior Fred Treadwell left Friday night's game against the Kennett Indians feeling optimistic.
Even though it was the Bulldogs' third-straight loss, he believes playing the defending Class 3, District 1 champions to a 78-69 final and playing one of the best games to date, gives them something to look forward to.
"We feel like we can be a pretty good team, keeping up with them like that," said Treadwell. "They're a pretty good team and we saw how good we can be."
The Bulldogs failed to keep pace with Kennett towards the waning minutes of regulation leaving Portageville head coach Jason Irby uttering the same sentiments as Treadwell.
"I think tonight we kind of saw how good we can be and they played that way at times," Irby said. "We have to clean up a lot of those little things. We keep building off of what we did tonight, I think we'll have a chance to be a pretty good ball club towards the end."
Despite much of the game being a back and forth affair, it didn't begin that way for the Bulldogs in the first quarter.
Behind 14 first quarter points from Kennett's Fred Garmon, the Indians busted out to a 17-point advantage with just over two minutes to play.
With that deficit staring at them, Portageville kept fighting. A 9-1 run to end the first frame cut Kennett's lead in half, 24-15.
Portageville (2-3) eventually fought back long enough to take a lead later in the second quarter. A steal and basket by Treadwell capped off a 15-5 run by the Bulldogs giving them a 30-29 advantage just three minutes into the second.
A combined 18 points from Tevin Walker, Isaac Ray and Rondraus Booker, who pulled down a team-high 16 rebounds, in the second frame aided the Bulldogs' comeback as well as an emphasis to pound the ball inside to both Booker and Treadwell.
"I thought our kids did a really good job on the boards and we attacked the inside," said Irby. "That's where we thought we'd have an advantage. We played strong in there.
"We did a good job of getting the ball into Rondraus a lot. Fred did a good job of attacking the basket. We did a good job inside."
Despite their surge, Kennett still held a 39-37 lead at halftime.
Portageville kept pushing to take control of the game in the third quarter as well.
Treadwell completed an old fashioned three point play to bring his team from within one until Steve Buchanon scored his only bucket of the night soon after to give the Bulldogs a 46-45 lead.
An offensive rebound and stick back by Ray gave Portageville their largest lead of the night, 48-45, with over three minutes left in the third.
A 3-pointer by Kennett's Andy Lack tied the game which was followed by a basket by Cameron Wallace giving the Indians a 50-49 lead -- which Kennett never relinquished after.
"We made a run and got it close," Irby said. "(Kennett's) got heart and they're used to winning. We got to get to where they're at. That's what we're trying to do. Our kids fought hard."
Portageville's last push came with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter after Walker made it 74-69. On Kennett's next possession, Walker came up with a steal but missed his ensuing layup missing a chance to make it a one possession lead.
"We had a chance to get into a one-possession game," Irby said, "we just didn't quite have enough left to finish it off."
Four made free throws from Lack and Randrick Caruthers when the Bulldogs had to foul iced the win for the Indians.
Kennett (6-1) took advantage of their time at the free throw line canning 32-of-41.
"We put them on the line way too much," said Irby. "That allowed them to get some separation."
Garmon led all scorers with 22 points while Caruthers knocked down 21.
Treadwell, Booker and Walker each had 18 points for Portageville to lead the charge.
Portageville will be participating in the Bloomfield Christmas tournament on Dec. 26 giving the Bulldogs their first chance to see how playing Kennett close will help them improve.
"Hopefully we'll learn from our mistakes and get better," Treadwell said. "We came together as a team and started playing together. Hopefully, we'll continue to play aggressive through the rest of the season and get victories."
KENNETT (78) -- Jay Shavers 3, Randrick Caruthers 21, Cameron Wallace 10, Fred Garmon 22, Jack Walls 10, Andy Lack 7, Jajuan Wallace 5. FG 21, FT 32-41, F 28. (3-pointers: Garmon 3, Lack 1. Fouled out: none.)
PORTAGEVILLE (69) -- Tevin Walker 18, Isaac Ray 11, Fred Treadwell 18, Rondraus Booker 18, Steve Buchanon 2, Jake Young 2. FG 24, FT 20-39, F 26. (3-pointers: Treadwell 1. Fouled out: Ray.)