The Eagles held a double-digit lead in the third quarter, but saw the quick and athletic Indians rally to an 83-74 win. Considering it was Byhalia's eighth game of the season and the Eagles' first, NMCC head coach Scott Kruse wasn't too disappointed with his team's performance.
"I'm not displeased at all," said Kruse. "I'm proud of the effort and proud of the way the guys kept their heads in a physical game. I think if they keep working hard in practice, we're going to be all right."
Byhalia had a good inside-outside game, with 6-foot-5 Brandon Davis and 6-foot-4 Randall Davis patrolling the middle, while sharpshooters Lavar Craine and Marcello Jefferson hung out on the perimeter and drilled 3-pointers.
But it was slasher Antonio Isum that did the most damage. After scoring just two points in the first half, the 6-foot-4 sophomore exploded with 16 points over the final two quarters to finish with a game-high 18.
"He just keeps going and keeps going," said Byhalia head coach Charles Gillespie. "He never quits. When we were down, I just kept telling the kids to stay focused and keep playing fundamental basketball. When we don't give up, we're hard to beat."
Isum was followed by Jefferson with 16. Demarius Moore and Brandon Davis each scored 11.
For NMCC, first-year player Brandon Waters led the way with 16. Mackal Kimble added 14 points for the Eagles.
"There are a lot of positives to take out of this game," said Kruse. "Probably a lot more than I expected after just nine practices. For about two and a half quarters, we did a lot of things the right way. But we're not where we want to be yet, and it ended up showing."
Vashon 68, Covington 42
The second game of the Riverbend was schedule to be between Charleston and Rossville Academy, but Rossville canceled at the last minute.
Instead, Vashon took the floor and beat Covington, Tenn., 68-42.
Covington trailed just 32-25 at halftime, but was outscored 19-4 in the third quarter. Dwayne Polk scored 14 points for the Wolverines, followed by Johnny Hill with 12. Six-foot-10 senior Curtis Muse finished with nine.
Covington was led by Donnell Maben with 11 points and Terreace Glass with nine.
The battle between state champions lived up to its billing in the final game of the night as Kickapoo beat Pine Bluff 78-64 in triple overtime.
Kickapoo is the defending Class 5 state champion in Missouri while Pine Bluff is the 5A state champ in Arkansas.
The Zebras jumped out to an early lead, only to see Kickapoo rally behind 6-foot-4 sophomore Kyle Kirk.
Kirk finished with 21 points, followed by Kevin James and Shane Laurie with 12 each. For Pine Bluff, 6-foot-8 Navonta Kentle led the way with 22.