(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
PORTAGEVILLE -- Celebrating senior night on Monday, the Portageville Lady Bulldogs rode a strong first half and 25 points from Taylor McCoy to a 63-53 win over the Kelly Lady Hawks.
"We came out with the energy level that we needed and we played good defense," Portageville coach Barry Branscum said. "They had size we don't have, but I thought we did a pretty good job of defending inside.
"Offensively we were patient and took care of the basketball. We moved it and had good shots."
Fueled by 18 first-half points from McCoy, including four 3-pointers, the Lady Bulldogs came out and took an early 9-8 lead before quickly creating some separation from the Lady Hawks as the entered the second frame up 16-10.
Though a quick basket from Payton Jones closed Kelly back to within four, Portageville went on a 13-0 run that was capped with a 3-pointer from Jenna Hawkins with 3:52 left in the half.
The Lady Hawks got a bucket from Bridgette Chandler seconds later to break their drought and went on a 8-4 rally before going into the locker room trailing by 16 points at 40-24.
"It's hard to come back from that at any point in time," Kelly assistant coach Trey Simmons said of the Lady Bulldogs run. "Especially when you're there on their senior night when they're extra pumped and ready to go."
After the Lady Hawks opened the third frame with a couple quick baskets to close to within 12, Portageville once again took over and built their largest lead of the night at 48-28 four minutes into the half.
Making one last push Kelly responded to their 20-point deficit by reeling off 12-straight points in just over four minutes at they closed to within eight points, at 48-40, in the opening minute of the fourth.
Unfortunately for the Lady Hawks, that was as close as they would come. The two teams spent the final seven minutes of the contest trading shots as the Lady Bulldogs pushed back ahead by 14, at 63-49, with 1:12 remaining.
"We really wanted this game tonight," Branscum said. "We really wanted to end the season strong because we know in districts next week we have our hands full.
"This was going to set the stage for us because Kelly has been playing well lately."
Leading the Lady Bulldogs effort was McCoy with a game-high 25 points. She hit four of her team's five 3-pointers while going 3 of 4 at the free throw line.
Latavia Harris had 11 points while Jennifer Ifland added nine to Portageville's cause.
"We all played well," Branscum said of his girls. "Taylor had a good night with 25 points. Latavia Harris had a good night as well. She really did a good job taking the ball to the basket and created other things for Taylor and the other players.
"I'm very proud of the way we played. That's a good end of our regular season right there."
For the Lady Hawks, Chandler finished the night with a team-high 15 points while Samantha Ratledge and Stephanie Worth contributed eight points each.
"Good second half effort there," Simmons said. "We just came out and Portageville jumped on us early.
"It was hard to get back and recover from that. They're an experienced team and they came out and did what they were suppose to do tonight."
Earlier in the night, Kelly's' junior varsity overcame an 17-point halftime deficit to defeat Portageville's junior varsity
KELLY (53) -- Sam Ratledge 8, Tessa Johnson 4, Darbe Backfisch 2, Bridgette Chandler 15, Stephanie Worth 8, Karlie Ashcraft 2, Logan Ivie 6, Payton Jones 6, Jessica Worth 2. FG 22, FT 7-15, F 17. (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: none).
PORTAGEVILLE (63) -- Nizah Harris 2, Ally Walls 5, Jenna Hawkins 4, Jennifer Ifland 9, Taylor McCoy 25, Lindsey Young 5, Danielle Morgan 2, Latavia Harris 11. FG 23, FT 12-25, F 17. (3-pointers: McCoy 4, Hawkins 1. Fouled out: none).