MALDEN - The Twin Rivers Royals proved themselves to be worthy of their top seed in the Class 3, District 1 at Malden on Thursday. The Royals manhandled the inexperienced NMCC Eagles 78-47.
The Eagles, who have no seniors on their roster, fell behind early in the contest and could never make a run at the Royals.
NMCC could manage but one bucket and two free throws in the opening quarter and although it did get better than that, the tone was set for the game. Matt Stanford of the Royals scored eleven points in that quarter and led them to a 23-4 advantage at the end of one period.
The Eagles showed some signs of life as the second quarter unfolded when five players scored led by Mackal Kimble's seven points. New Madrid's quickness on defense held the Royals to only 16 in that period, but the Eagle deficit was 39-23 at intermission.
Robby Moore, who led all scorers in the game with 27 points, really took over in the third period. He scored two buckets and three 3-pointers in the quarter, then was fouled at the buzzer while attempting another trifecta. He stepped to the charity stripe and calmly netted all three attempts to put the Royals ahead 60-34.
Eagle freshman guard Jordan Kimball and Kimble reached double figures with 10 and 17 respectively.
Both teams substituted freely in the final frame and once again the Royals got the better of it and outscored NMCC 18-13. The Royals' win puts them in the championship game Friday at 7:30 against the Doniphan Dons.
NMCC's record for the season is 9-16.
The Doniphan Dons earned the right to face top-seeded Twin Rivers Friday night by defeating the Portageville Bulldogs 79-67 on Thursday. The two teams faced off earlier in the season and the Bulldogs got the better of that game.
Portageville played well in the first quarter and although the leads it enjoyed weren't comfortable, there was a sense that the Dogs were in control. Aaron Bidewell, who led all scorers in the contest, got them off to a good start when he netted six points in the frame. Portageville led 22-15 after one.
"We didn't execute our game plan in the first half. Coach Bidewell does such a great job with those guys. They are so disciplined and we felt we had to match that in the game. We didn't do that as well as we needed to in the first half," said Dons' head coach Shawn Gibbs.
"That was something we talked about at halftime, we really focused on running our offense, getting on those defensive boards and just pressuring them, because we felt we wore them out a little bit in the first half,'' continued Gibbs.
The second quarter was played evenly as Doniphan began to step up the defensive pressure. Portageville managed to maintain the lead in the period, thanks to a shot at the buzzer by Bidewell that made the score 33-27 at intermission.
Doniphan owned the third quarter thanks to a half-court trap which produced some Bulldog turnovers and several steals. The two teams traded buckets and the lead time after time throughout the frame. The Dons ultimately outscored Portageville 25-17 in the period to take a 52-50 lead going into the last quarter.
"It was one of those games where it looked like we had control, and they put that half-court trap on and we were not prepared for it. They used it the first time we played them and it didn't bother us too much, so I failed to get us prepared for it. They (Doniphan) came out with it and had some success with it, and we never could get a continuity about our offense. It's a coaching mistake and I'll be a better coach for it,'' said Portageville coach Jim Bidewell.
Free throws were the story of the fourth quarter as Doniphan collected 12 of 17 to seal the win.
Portageville's season ends at 18-8.