(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
ESSEX -- After a lack-luster showing at the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament, the East Prairie Eagles traveled to Rebel country Thursday night, to try and get back on the right track. The Eagles did get back on track, by taking advantage of a few key injuries to rout the Richland Rebels, 61-32.
The Rebels were able to hang on in the first half only trailing 25-20 heading into the locker room. But, the third quarter is when both, Drew Thornton and Landon Miller went down with injuries for the Rebels. Miller hurt his knee, while Thornton tweaked his ankle after coming down on another foot.
After Thornton and Miller left the game, the Rebels had a hard time trying to run their offense without them, which began the Eagles run. East Prairie went on to outscore Richland 36-12 during the entire second half.
"First things first, our kids competed," Eagles head coach Matt Schonhoff said. "It was the first time since the Oran game where our kids came out and really gave forth a hard effort. Its a good sign coming off going 0-2 at Bloomfield."
East Prairie was easily dispatched of by the Doniphan Dons in their first game at the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament, 69-35, and then fell to Twin Rivers in a close, 71-62 decision.
"When they lost their kids, our kids stepped up and finished," Schonhoff said. "That's something that we have been preaching all year and we did that tonight, I couldn't be happier."
Even before the injury, the Eagles were able to contain the Rebels leading scorer, Thornton, to only four points.
"We had a game plan for Drew (Thornton)," Schonhoff said. "I think it frustrated him and they could not run their offense through him, so they had to settle for outside shots."
East Prairie was led by M.C. Williams who led all scorers with 17 points. Tony Jones finished with 14 points, and Ryan Jones chipped in with 12.
"I thought East Prairie played hard," Rebels head coach Casey Knight said. "I know that had lost two and out at the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament so they were hungry for a win and we knew that coming in."
The Richland Rebels also experienced first round defeat in the Bloomfield tournament, but bounced back in day two after a win against East Carter County. Day three, the Rebels lost a close one the the Van Buren Bulldogs, 44-42.
"We're a little down right now for whatever reasons," Knight said. "We got to find that out and I think we're going to have to do that in practice and get that hunger back."
Mikey Latham led the Rebels with 14 points with two 3-pointers and was the only Rebel in double figures.
As for Thornton and Miller, coach Knight said that they should be back back shortly.
"Thornton will ice it tonight, and hopefully be ready to go and Landon (Miller) should be able to be back."
For their next game, the Rebels will travel to Bell City to take on the Cubs tonight at 6 p.m. East Prairie will be participating in the Tiger Hoopfest in Cape Girardeau on Saturday.
The Richland junior varsity pulled out a victory against the Eagles Thursday night, 41-19.
Lloyd Barr led the Rebels with nine points, while Jacob Hyten and Jesse Brown added eight and seven, respectively.
East Prairie's Bobby Woods and Matt Armstrong added five points apiece.