PORTAGEVILLE - The Portageville Bulldogs won their 17th game of the season Tuesday night and their sixth straight by holding off the East Prairie Eagles 58-46.
The loss was the Eagles' fifth straight. East Prairie's record is now 15-8 for the season.
For the first five minutes of the contest, it looked as if Portageville would dominate early, but after falling behind 11-2 East Prairie came to life.
Preston Shoemaker, who had a team-high 19 points for the Eagles, canned a 3-pointer in the midst of a 9-4 run to cut the Bulldog lead to 15-11 after one quarter.
Jordan Sanders, who had four trifectas in the contest for 12 points, collected two of them in the second period to keep the Eagles close.
At the 6:09 point of the second stanza, Sanders' first three pulled the Eagles even at 19. The two teams traded buckets for the rest of the period with East Prairie leading by as many as four on two occasions.
A Jordan Penn bucket with 24 seconds remaining in the half put the Bulldogs ahead 32-31 and the Eagles would not lead again. A Trey Mosby two at the buzzer put Portageville ahead 34-31 at the half.
Due in large part to a stifling Bulldog defense, East Prairie struggled to get any offense going in the third quarter. The first Eagle bucket came at the 2:46 mark on a Tony Jones bucket. East Prairie managed only seven points in the quarter, but trailed by only eight 46-38 to end the third.
The Eagles' scoring woes continued in the final quarter. Shoemaker got a traditional 3-point play at the 3:34 for their first points. They tallied only eight points in the fourth quarter while the Bulldogs scored 12.
Willie Hassell had a game-high 21 points. He was joined in double figures by Antonio Scott who had 11. Penn ended with eight.
Portageville coach Jim Bidewell said of his team's play: "The mistakes we made were not effort mistakes, they were mental mistakes, and some coaching mistakes that we will have to cover better in practice."
"We knew going in that East Prairie would not beat themselves, and they would come out firing. It was the kind of game I expected.
"Any time you win a game against a good team like East Prairie, it's good. We are happy with the win, but we're not satisfied completely with our play."
"We just had too many turnovers. I thought defensively our kids played as hard as we have played on defense for a while, like we did early in the season when we were winning," said Eagles' coach Jason Irby. "Our problem was on the offensive end. You can't turn the ball over 25 times. That's too many possessions to be giving up in a 12-point game."
"The credit has to go to Portageville. They play such good defense, they just locked us down in the second half," concluded Irby.
Tony Brown and Trey Mosby combined for 26 points to lead the junior Bulldogs to a 47-31 win over the junior Eagles.
East Prairie will visit the Kelly Hawks on Friday night. Portageville will travel to Gideon on Thursday night for a battle of the Bulldogs.