NEW MADRID -- Bad news for the rest of Missouri: the back-to-back 3A state champs are getting better.
New Madrid County Central followed up its impressive performance at the Bass Pro tournament with a dominant 82-39 win over Kennett on Tuesday.
The Eagles were stellar in every phase of the game, overwhelming the Indians on both offense and defense.
"New Madrid is a good ballclub," said Kennett head coach Tim Turlington. "If you could somehow get everything you wanted for your team -- this is what you would want right here.
Inside, outside, height, strength, speed, agility, depth -- they've got it all. I had no idea they could shoot the ball as well as they did tonight. They can flat stick it."
Eleven NMCC players contributed to the final score, with five finishing in double figures. On the night, the Eagles shot 61 percent from 2-point range and hit 5-of-8 from downtown.
Ronland Ranson led all scorers with 12 points, all coming in the second half. Dereke Tipler scored 11 with five assists and four steals. Derrell Minner also scored 11 and pulled down six rebounds.
Brian Murph and Desmond Sims each scored 10, followed by Terrance Smith with nine and Tyler Wagner with eight.
"The boys really came to play and were very focused," said NMCC coach Joby Holland. "We had an exceptional tournament at the Bass Pro and I think there was a bleed-over into tonight. They want to continue to play at that level."
In the first quarter, transition baskets by Tyree Goolsby and Julius Taylor kept Kennett in the game. Dustin Pritchett also drew two charges, but the Eagles ended the quarter with a 17-11 lead.
NMCC opened the second period with an 18-2 run, highlighted by two Wagner 3-pointers and a Murph slam dunk. Minner finished off the quarter with an alley-oop slam from Tipler to give the Eagles a 42-21 halftime advantage.
"Their outside shooters pulled us out and took a lot of pressure off their inside players," said Turlington. "We're so small, it's hard for us to match up with Ranson and Minner."
NMCC tightened the screws defensively in the second half, allowing just six points in the third quarter. The Eagles took a commanding 63-27 lead into the fourth before pulling the regular players with seven minutes left in regulation.
Off the bench Mack Kimble and Vaughn Shepard hit 3-pointers, then Kimble ended the game with a slam dunk at the buzzer to give NMCC the impressive 82-39 win.
"There are a lot of games where Dereke sticks out a little more, but we try to be as balanced as we can and get everybody involved in the offense," said Holland. "Tonight was a good effort on everybody's part."
Pritchett was held well under his average, but still led Kennett's scoring attack with 10 points. Goolsby and Taylor each finished with eight.
"We wanted take Pritchett out as much as possible," said Holland. "I thought Terrance Smith did a good job of checking his shots and making him work for what he got. Brian Murph also did a good job on Goolsby."
NMCC (15-2) will host Doniphan on Friday while Kennett (14-5) travels to Charleston. After an outstanding start to the season, the Indians have now experienced a minor setback, losing two straight.
"It's tough playing in the SEMO Conference," said Turlington. "This is easily the best conference in the state. Every night is a war. We've got Charleston on Friday, then the Bootheel Conference Tournament at Hayti, which is a tough place to play. Then we finish up with Dexter, Notre Dame and Sikeston.
It doesn't get any easier for the Indians."
NMCC won the junior varsity game, 54-35. Edgar Givens led the Eagles with 19 points, followed by Vaughn Shepard with 12, Mack Kimble with eight and Brandon Williamson with seven.
C. Robinson paced the Indians with 16. The jayvee Eagles improved to 5-2 with the win.