(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
BENTON -- If there's one thing that the Kelly Lady Hawks have struggled with early this season it's holding on to early leads.
Thursday night was no different as the Lady Hawks saw a six-point halftime advantage against Portageville disappear as a big second half lifted the Lady Bulldogs to a 43-34 win.
"That's what happens when you go against seniors," Kelly head coach Rod McQuerter said. "When you have freshman and sophomores out there you just have to weather the storm and hope they can pick it up.
"They're learning and getting a lot valuable experience this year, but that's just what happens."
Kelly jumped out of the gate on an 8-2 run through the first seven minutes of play before going on to lead the rest of the half.
After a Morgan LeDure 3-pointer pushed their lead to nine to open the second half, however, the Lady Hawks quickly found momentum shifting the other way.
With Kelly still leading 26-18 and just over five minutes left in the third, the Lady Bulldogs started a three minute push where they scored 12-straight points to take the lead.
A basket from Jennifer Ifland, as part of a 13-point night, tied the game at 26-26 with 3:44 left in the frame.
Soon after, Jelisha Minnis scored from the paint to put Portageville on top before another bucket from Ifland moved the Lady Bulldogs ahead by four.
Back-to-back baskets from Kelly to close out the third left the two squads knotted up headed into the final frame.
"Early in the first quarter we missed like four power shots and it really set us back a little bit," Portageville head coach Barry Branscum said. "We just couldn't hit a shot early and then those shots started falling late in the game."
Four-straight points from Ifland, all on free throws, once again gave the Lady Bulldogs the lead in the first few minutes of the fourth.
With five minutes to play Portageville led 35-32.
From then on the Lady Bulldogs started to pull away with an 8-0 run giving them a 43-32 advantage with 3:05 to play.
Portageville failed to score another basket, but held Kelly to only a layup from LeDure in the final three minutes as they held on for the win.
"We were down six at halftime and they were doing a good job of pressuring us," Branscum said. "I think Kelly is probably the biggest, most physical team we've seen this year.
"I'm just extremely proud of the effort my girls gave in the second half in handling the full court pressure and just taking the ball to the basket and scoring."
Both Ifland and Taylor McCoy scored a game-high 13 points to led Portageville with all 13 of McCoy's points coming in the second half. Minnis and Danielle Morgan finished the contest with seven and six points respectively.
Leading Kelly was Logan Ivie with 10 points while Kristi Brucker contributed six. Tessa Johnson and Payton Jones had four points each.
The win leaves the Lady Bulldogs at 3-4 while the Lady Hawks fall to 2-3.
In the night's junior varsity matchup it was Kelly coming out of top 49-38. Portageville held a slim 22-21 lead at the break, but the Lady Hawks went on to outscore Portageville 28-16 in the final two quarters to earn the win.
Kaylee Scherer had a game-high 16 points for Kelly with Samantha Ratledge and Tiffany Gibson scoring nine points each.
For Portageville, Minnis had 12 points, scoring all of the in the second quarter. Jill Kellams was second on the team with 10.
PORTAGEVILLE (43) -- Jill Kellams 4, Jennifer Ifland 13, Taylor McCoy 13, Danielle Morgan 6, Jelisha Minnis 7. FG 17, FT 9-20, F 10. (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: none.)
KELLY (34) -- Morgan LeDure 5, Tessa Johnson 4, Stephanie Worth 2, Samantha Ratledge 2, Kristi Brucker 6, Payton Jones 4, Katie Koonce 1, Logan Ivie 10. FG 14, FT 5-7, F 16. (3-pointers: LeDure 1. Fouled out: none.)