(Photos by Derek James, Staff)
Hansbrough scored 16 in helping the Mules to a big 74-73 upset of the Eagles.
On Tuesday, Hansbrough, now a more mature 6-foot-8 sophomore, had his way with the Eagles again, scoring 26 points in the Mules' 78-56 win at New Madrid County Central High School.
He also had eight rebounds with three blocked shots, two 3-pointers and six slam dunks.
"He's 6-9 and if he was 6-4 he'd be doing some of the same stuff," said NMCC head coach David Fields. "He's by far the best player we've seen this year and he just keeps getting better and better. I credit him for keeping his composure because we banged him around all night long. I wish he was a senior because I sure don't want to look at him for two more years."
NMCC fell to 6-13 overall and 2-4 in league play.
The Mules controlled things from the start.
NMCC had a brief one-point lead in the early part of the first quarter, but the Mules never trailed after that.
Poplar Bluff ended up leading 16-9 after one quarter of play.
Falling behind early was something Fields knew his team couldn't afford.
"We've been doing that all year," he said. "Tonight there was a reason we got into a hole. I was glad to play the (No. 2) team in the state. At least it kind of tells us where we are. Last year we went over there in a similar situation and it showed them where they were."
NMCC was able to trim the lead to 20-17 on a Jordan Kimball basket in the second quarter but that was as close as the Eagles would get.
The Mules responded with a 9-0 run to lead 29-17.
The Eagles were able to get the lead under double figures by halftime at 33-24.
The Mules started pulling away in the third quarter as they opened up a quick 14-point lead.
"They're so physical that they wear you down," said Fields. "They go about 10 deep and they don't lose a whole lot when they bring that second group in there. They just keep coming at you and it just wears you down. And that's what happened."
Poplar Bluff out-scored the Eagles 26-15 in the third quarter to lead 59-39 entering the final frame.
The Mules led by as much as 27 points on a Cheron Pearson basket to make it 71-44 with four minutes remaining.
"I thought the second and third quarters we really played well," said Poplar Bluff head coach John David Pattillo. "I thought we were a little sluggish coming out. We seemed to turn it up there in the second and third quarters."
Poplar Bluff also got double figure scoring out of Pearson (12), Tony Webb (11) and Anthony Gilberto (10).
Webb also had nine rebounds and Pearson added six boards.
NMCC was led by Mackal Kimble's 17 points. No other Eagle reached double figures. Sophomore Dominique Betts and freshman Jordan Kimball each followed up with eight points.
"The kids from New Madrid are going to continue to get better, of course they're so strong and athletic," said Pattillo. "We'll have a little harder time next year with this bunch."
The road doesn't get any easier for NMCC as they travel to play Dexter on Thursday with junior varsity action starting at 6 p.m.
The Eagles will play at Scott County Central on Friday at 6 p.m.
"We have to keep getting better, that's all it is," said Fields. "It doesn't matter if you lose every game in the regular season. You have to win in the post-season. And that's what we're trying to work for. Sure we'd love to win games, and we're fighting like heck to try to do that. But it all boils down to district and post-season play."
Poplar Bluff will host Sikeston on Friday night at 6 p.m.