Kinnett responds to coach’s criticism with big game

Central High School’s Stacey Kinnett goes up for the layup during the first half of Tuesday’s game against Delta High School at Central.

The Central High School girls basketball team started slowly but finished strong Tuesday, pounding Delta 69-36 at Central.

After taking a seven-point lead into halftime, the Warriors (7-6) pounced on the Panthers with a 20-6 run to open the third quarter. The Warriors used their pressure defense and traps to force turnovers and capitalized on the offensive end with easy layups.

Junior Stacey Kinnett harassed the Panthers all night long on the both ends of the court, causing turnovers and finishing on fast breaks.

“I challenged her last game,” Central coach Todd Dixon said of Kinnett. “I thought she was just a step behind. I challenged her to be the player that she is ... I thought she anticipated a whole lot better tonight.”

The ball-hawking junior did more than anticipate, wreaking havoc on every loose ball and risky pass the Panthers threw. Kinnett finished with a team-high 20 points

With two starters on the bench in foul trouble, Kinnett started the scoring early. She rallied the Warriors to a 12-6 lead after scoring on a layup and then a jumper from the wing on back-to-back possessions with less than three minutes to go in the first quarter.

The Panthers battled back to finish the first quarter tied at 12-12. Senior Alicia Gieck powered the Panthers with 10 first-half points and a team-high 18 points for the game.

Kinnett again scored on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter when she drained a jumper from the right wing, then stole the ball as the Panthers were bringing it across halfcourt.

Kinnett jumped in front of a pass and shot to the basket. With three defenders either in front or to the side of her, she crossed over to her left side, cutting between two Panthers. Kinnett brought the ball back to her right side and drew the foul while going up for the layup.

Her shot bounced out, but she went 1 for 2 from the line; a spot where the Warriors struggled at during the first half.

“I think we were just a little tense,” Dixon said of his team’s shooting from the free-throw line.

“When you start missing, you get a little more tense. I think the whole thing was for us to relax and knock down what they are, free throws.”

The Warriors went an ugly 6 for 14 from the line in the first half, but made a complete turnaround and shot 10 for 13 in the second half.

The Warriors were about to take a 10-point lead to half until Delta’s Ariel Halverson drained a buzzer-beater from five steps beyond the 3-point line. The 3 made it a 28-21 game at the halfway mark.

Juniors Amy Kame and Haleigh Higgins, who finished with 18 and 10 points respectively, knocked down early shots in the third quarter to give the Warriors a 37-23 third-quarter lead.

Karen Hayter got into the action with two minutes left in the third quarter when she stole the ball, changed directions and left a Panther defender stumbling with a behind-the-back dribble. Hayter took the ball coast-to-coast, scored and was fouled. Hayter missed the free throw and finished with four points.

The Warriors continued to pour it on in the fourth, scoring 21 points to the Panthers’  nine.

The Warriors head to the road this weekend to face Montezuma-Cortez on Friday and Durango on Saturday.


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