MORLEY -- On Friday, the East Prairie Eagles defeated the Scott Central Braves 67-62 to capture the championship of the Scott-Mississippi Conference Tournament.
Last night, the Braves turned the tables with a 77-64 conference win over the Eagles.
Scott Central improved to 12-7, 2-1 in the conference while East Prairie, whose 10-game win streak was snapped, fell to 15-4, 3-1.
"You've got to give Scott Central's kids credit," said East Prairie coach Jason Irby. "They came out a little more fired up tonight and just outplayed us."
In addition to the obvious motivation of a close conference race and revenge for the tournament loss, the Braves had another incentive, the return of coach Melvin Porter to the bench.
"The kids always play hard," said Porter, "but tonight, with me being back, I think really helped them a little bit." Porter, who sat out Scott Central's previous 13 games while on administrative leave during a criminal investigation, was cleared of all wrongdoing and reinstated.
"Anytime people make allegations," he said, "it's the school's responsibility to respond to that and that's what they did. So, I had to sit through it; I made it out and I'm back."
Scott Central trailed throughout the first half before finally overtaking the Eagles at the 2:10 mark of the second period. Josh Boley's 3-pointer pushed the Braves ahead 30-29, their first lead of the game. East Prairie led 21-20 after the first quarter.
Scott Central closed out the half on a 12-1 run for a 37-30 halftime advantage.
Said Irby, "I thought we matched their intensity early, but we got into a running game with them for a while. Our shots weren't falling and theirs were. We got caught up in that tempo for a little bit and that's not the type of game we want to play."
Trailing by 13 with about three minutes left in the third period, East Prairie rallied to close the gap to 54-49 on two consecutive treys by Jordan Sanders and a layup by Tony Jones off an assist from James Wilson.
The Braves responded with a 4-0 run to take a 58-49 lead into the final quarter.
Scott Central withstood another Eagle run in the fourth quarter. East Prairie got to within four at 68-64 with about two minutes left, but the Braves went on a 9-0 run to close out the victory.
"They got winded in the fourth quarter the other night and the same thing was happening again tonight," said Porter. "So I told the kids to run a delay game, but look to score. We ran it and it worked perfectly."
A Chris Monroe layup and an Avis White 3-pointer were the back-breakers in the game-clinching run.
Scott Central was led by sophomore Isaac Porter with 22 points. White, Boley and Andrew Pullen added 11 apiece.
Was there an East Prairie letdown after a huge win, their first conference tournament title since '86, on Friday night?
"We talked about that," said Irby, "but I don't want to use that as an excuse. They just played better tonight. They wanted it more. Hopefully, we'll bounce back like good teams do."
East Prairie hosts South Pemiscot on Friday.
East Prairie got 13 points each from Preston Shoemaker, Dez Johnson and Jones while Sanders chipped in with 11.
Porter's return sent interim coach Delane Beckwith, also Scott Central's principal, back to the sidelines.
"I'm done. I'm retired again," said Beckwith. "I'm proud of those kids and just excited that I had the opportunity to help coach Porter and the kids out. I hope they keep winning and, hopefully, bring home a state championship and hang another banner in this gym."
Scott Central goes on the road to meet conference foe Chaffee on Friday.