Both teams came into the game missing key components to their respective teams. Doniphan was without the services of 6-foot-2 junior Nick Webb, who is was out with an ankle injury and 6-0 sophomore Charles Wilson, out with the flu.
NMCC missed the services of 5-11 senior sharpshooter Jordan Kimball, who was out due to personal reasons.
The Eagles tallest player on the floor at any time was 6-2, unfortunately for NMCC, Doniphan had a 6-10 presence down in the paint. That presence for the Dons is Matt Rogers.
Rogers had a game many players can only dream about, with a triple-double of 20 points, 19 rebounds (eight offensive) and 11 blocks. The stats were impressive, but Rogers impact was felt throughout the Eagles lineup. Numerous shots were adjusted by NMCC just because Rogers was in the general vicinity.
"We had no answers for Rogers," said NMCC head coach Lennies McFerren. "He is definitely legit. Our kids didn't realize how good he (Rogers) was, until the guys were in the locker room with their heads down after the loss. Rogers just understands how to play the game. He (Rogers) has excellent timing and was the difference in the game tonight."
NMCC played a man defense all night against the Dons. When asked if he considered going to a zone, McFerren balked at such a notion.
"I never thought once about playing a zone," said McFerren. "My thinking is that if run a zone, that would give Doniphan a chance to rest and set up for a good shot. Wanted to keep pressure on them."
Doniphan head coach Shawn Gibbs was also impressed with the game of Rogers.
"When Matt comes to play like he did tonight, he will usually put up big numbers," said Gibbs. "Matt makes a difference in the lane and was active on both ends of the floor tonight."
Despite the big game by Rogers, the Eagles did not go away quietly in the contest. Shawn Newsome, a 6-2 forward for NMCC, went right at the Dons in the first quarter and ended up with six points. Rogers had five points, five blocks and four rebounds in the first for Doniphan, as the Dons enjoyed a 13-12 lead to begin the second quarter.
Doniphan sprinted out in the second, with a 9-1 run and led 22-14 with six minutes to play in the quarter. The Eagles made a run of their own midway through the second, by outscoring Doniphan 8-0 in a three minute span to take the lead with two minutes to play in the half, 25-24.
Junior Adam Carpenter ended the run for the Dons with a traditional 3-point play on a running shot in the lane. With the free-throw, Doniphan led 27-25.
Sophomore Leslie Williams hit a big 15-foot jump shot off the bench for NMCC and tied the game at 27 on the next Eagle possession.
NMCC had the last possession of the half and ran the clock down for one final shot attempt. Newsome had the ball at the top of the key and drove toward the goal with five seconds remaining in the half. As Newsome drove toward the basket, Newsome eyed point guard Terrard Long alone on the wing open for a 3-pointer.
Newsome flipped the ball over to Long, who calmly nailed the 3-pointer as time expired. The shot gave NMCC a 30-27 lead heading into the half.
Long led the Eagles with seven points and three assists in the first half. Newsome had a good all-around game in the half with six points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals. Marquese Gates, a 5-10 post player for NMCC, had four points, three steals and two rebounds by halftime.
Rogers ended the half for Doniphan with nine points, eight rebounds (four offensive) and seven blocks. Chandler Wilson, the twin of Charles Wilson, netted eight points in the half for the Dons.
"We stress taking care of the ball," said Gibbs. "In the first half, we were not right. We try to force turnovers and in the first half tonight, we committed too many turnovers."
Doniphan regained the lead in the third quarter in part to the play of Chandler Wilson, who hit some key jump shots down the stretch of the third. NMCC had a chance to tie the game at 44, but the Eagles missed the front end of a one-and-one. Doniphan led 44-42 heading into the final quarter.
NMCC got started on the wrong foot to start the fourth, as the Eagles were issued a technical foul for having a junior varsity player play too many quarters in both the junior varsity and varsity games.
At the point in the game, the technical against NMCC was a huge momentum swing with the game tied at 44 when the call was made. After Doniphan made the two free throws, the Dons did not look back and never trailed after the technical call.
The Dons extended the lead after 6-3 senior Jason Switzer stepped out and nailed a big 3-pointer to put Doniphan up 51-46 with 5:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Switzer was not done in the fourth, after making 1-of-2 free throws, Doniphan stole the next possession from NMCC and Switzer grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed Dons shot and got the put back for two points. Doniphan had a 8-0 run and led 54-46 with five minutes to play in the contest.
The Eagles cut the lead to 54-49 but received a big blow, as Long fouled out with 3:46 left in the fourth. Before fouling out, Long was having a nice game with 11 points, including a 3-pointer, and had four assists.
Chandler Wilson hit a 3-pointer with three minutes remaining and Doniphan led 57-49. On NMCC's next possession, Newsome grabbed a offensive rebound and scored the put back to get the Eagles closer at 57-51 with 2:30 to play.
After Doniphan hit 1-of-2 free throws, 5-10 forward Antonio McIntosh of NMCC drove the baseline past Rogers and went up strong on the opposite side of the goal for two points and the foul. McIntosh hit the free throw and the Eagles closed the gap to four, 58-54.
The Dons were strong handling the ball in the second half, as the Eagles were forced to foul Chandler Wilson with two minutes to play. Doniphan committed 13 turnovers in the first half, but turned it around with only three in the second half.
Wilson hit the two free throws and Doniphan led 60-54. NMCC came down and looked for a good shot. The Eagles found McIntosh open for a 3-pointer and the shot just rimmed out. In question for some Eagle fans, was what appeared to be a Doniphan player grab the net as the ball was still on the rim. However, officials made no call and the Dons secured the rebound.
Doniphan sealed the victory with three free throws and the Dons had the win, 63-56.
"We hit the offensive boards hard," said Gibbs. "In the second half, we took better care of the ball and put down some shots. I was impressed with (Tyler) Collins. He has been playing down on the junior varsity. He (Collins) came in and did a good job handling the pressure. I was pleased with the effort being short-handed and how the guys handled the boards."
Wilson tallied 15 points and had five boards for the Dons. Switzer scored 14 points and also had five boards. Junior Adam Carpenter used his 6-1 frame to see over the Eagles defense and led Doniphan with six assists. Carpenter also chipped in with nine points, going 5-for-7 from the charity stripe.
Newsome led a balanced Eagle scoring attack with 13 points and had six rebounds with four assists. McIntosh finished with 10 points and led NMCC with seven rebounds. Senior Reggie Cole had eight points and six rebounds. Gates continued his improved play for the Eagles recently with six points and seven rebounds (five offensive).
"With key players from both teams being out," said McFerren, "we were at a standstill throughout the game. It is simple, Doniphan did things to win the game and we didn't. I would have liked to pressure them (Doniphan) all night, but the players just don't have the stamina to pressure for four quarters."
Doniphan won the rebounding battle over NMCC 39-31. The Dons collected 18 offensive rebounds, while the Eagles had 16. Doniphan had more assists as a team than NMCC, 13-11. While the Dons committed 16 turnovers, NMCC did a nice job of handling the ball and committed only six turnovers.
NMCC junior varsity blasted Doniphan 67-32 for the victory.
Doniphan (17-2) will take on Clearwater at home on Tuesday.
NMCC (6-11) played Calloway County, Ky. Saturday in the Massac Shootout in Metropolis, Ill. Results will be in the Monday edition of the paper. The Eagles will travel to Poplar Bluff Tuesday.