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Hassell, Portageville dodge East Prairie

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

(Photo)
Willie Hassell
EAST PRAIRIE - The Portageville Bulldogs got back on the winning track Tuesday night with a narrow 60-50 win over the East Prairie Eagles. The win was the 16th of the season against four losses for the Bulldogs.

East Prairie falls to 7-11 on the season.

Portageville's Willie Hassell led all scorers in the contest with 22 points. Jimmy Larry added 10, including two from beyond the arc.

Aaron Harland led the Eagles with 14. Roger Swann and Jordan Sanders also scored in double digits with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

The two teams combined for only 15 points in the opening quarter as the Bulldog press stifled the Eagle offense. East Prairie's Harland got the first Eagle bucket with only two minutes to go in the frame.

The Bulldogs didn't fare much better, but did get some balanced scoring with four of the five starters chipping in. They led by a 10-5 count after one quarter.

"We're not playing with the intensity we were two weeks ago. We have picked up some bad habits, and we're not doing a lot of things right,'' commented Bulldog coach Jim Bidewell. "I don't want to say we are in a slump because we're winning, but there's one thing for sure, we're not peaking right now. I have to give East Prairie a lot of credit. They shot the lights out. Coach Irby had his kids were ready to play and he does a great job with them."

Both teams got their offenses off the ground in the second period. The Eagles outscored Portageville 16-15. Preston Shoemaker connected on a pair of treys in the quarter and cut the Bulldog lead to one at 18-17 at the six minute mark. The Bulldogs' Jimmy Larry connected on a trifecta of his own followed by a Jordan Penn jumper in the paint, and the Portageville lead was six.

The Eagles bounced back in the final minute of play on buckets by Harland and Carden and trailed by only a 25-21 count at the half.

"I thought we played well for most of the game. We had two or three bad spurts where they got out and got some easy baskets off our turnovers. That was the difference in the game. Other than that I thought we went toe to toe with them and played pretty well,'' said Eagle coach Jason Irby. "We're playing better defense than we have, but we didn't convert. We had 16 turnovers in the game, but I have to give a lot of credit to Portageville for that, they play good defense. I'm proud of our kids' effort because we're playing some good teams and we're not getting blown out."

Portageville enjoyed its best scoring effort of the night in the third period by scoring 18 and holding East Prairie to 11.

The Bulldogs led by a 43-32 score after three.

The Eagles were still very much in contention at the outset of the final frame, so they were forced to foul. They committed eight fouls and sent the Bulldogs to the charity stripe six times.

Hassell hit a perfect 6-of-6 free throws to foil the Eagle strategy and hang on for the win.

Portageville won the jayvee contest 59-45.

The Bulldogs will host Gideon on Thursday night. East Prairie will host Kelly on Friday night.