KENNETT - Kennett Indians middle school girls basketball coach Janet Hilburn has stressed to her teams the importance of making free throws in games in recent practices.
"We've been really working on those in practice," Hilburn said. "I told them free throws could be a deciding factor in a game."
Kennett seventh grader Meagan Pickens headed to the free-throw-line with a chance to give her team the lead with 52 seconds remaining in Tuesday night's game against the Dexter Lady Bearcats.
The Indians and Bearcats were tied at 16-16 in the seventh grade game when Pickens was fouled with less than a minute remaining.
The foul sent Pickens to the line to shoot two free throws. Pickens drained both to put Kennett on top 18-16. Dexter never scored again after and Kennett escaped with an 18-16 home win against the Bearcats.
"I thought the girls played great defense," Hilburn said of the final minute. "I told them 'defense was going to win this game tonight and we were going to have to have things work on all cylinders.' I couldn't have asked for a better effort tonight. I'm very proud of them."
Dexter led 7-1 in the first half of the seventh grade game before Kennett stormed back to take a 9-7 lead.
"I had to call a timeout to get things straight," Hilburn said of falling behind early. "Our girls kept working and working and got Dexter out of their game plan. I think that helped and finally our shots started to fall in the second half."
Dexter experienced less difficulty maintaining a lead in the eighth grade contest as it led after every quarter on its way to a double-digit 42-26 win against Kennett.
The Kennett seventh grade girls basketball team's record currently stands at 8-1. The Kennett eighth grade girls basketball team has a record of 8-3.
Kennett is back in action Thursday at 6 p.m. when it plays at Caruthersville.