"I don't think they were ready for the defense we played tonight, simple as that," said NMCC coach Lennies McFerren.
NMCC (7-13) held the Scott Central Braves (9-12) to 16 first-half points on the way to a 72-49 victory on Friday.
"They put on a defensive clinic and we're certainly not the first team that Lennies McFerren has done that to," said Scott Central coach David Heeb.
Both teams appeared tight and had trouble finding scoring consistency in the early going. With 3 minutes to go in the first quarter, NMCC held a 11-10 edge.
Kimball, returning after a four-game absence, immediately went on a 3-point binge, hitting 3-of-3 as he and another senior guard, Shaun Newsom, who had seven points in the period, combined for 13 in a 15-0 run to close the first quarter.
Kimball, shooting with uncanny accuracy, led all scorers with 20 points. He hit 8-of-9 shots overall, 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. In addition, Kimball supplemented his scoring with several assists off pinpoint passing.
NMCC led 26-11 as the first period expired.
"We had a real bad stretch there in the first and second quarters where we quit scoring and some of it was just shots that we missed, and are capable of hitting, and part of it was that they were playing great defense," said Heeb.
The Braves managed just two points during an 8-minute span at the end of the first to about the midpoint of the second quarter. The Eagles limited Scott Central to five second-quarter points.
NMCC, enjoying a rare size and height advantage, forged ahead 37-16 at the half.
Said McFerren, "For the first time this year, we had a team that we felt like we were dominant over, size-wise and quickness-wise."
McFerren singled out senior guard Terrard Long as the catalyst of the Eagle defense, which held Scott Central's scoring leader D.D. Gillespie to one point in the first half, two in three quarters.
"Terrard Long is one of the best defensive players in the state of Missouri," said McFerren. "He shut down Gillespie and as he goes, so goes Scott County Central."
Gillespie finished with a team-high 18 points, 16 in a meaningless fourth quarter.
NMCC kept the pressure on in the third quarter, outscoring Scott Central 19
-9. Senior post Reggie Cole keyed the offense with eight of his 14-point total.
"Reggie Cole played the game of his life," said McFerren.
Other contributors for the Eagles, behind Kimball and Cole, were Newsom with 11 points, Marquese Gates with nine and Antonio McIntosh with seven.
"We had more than one player step up tonight (offensively) and they all played great defense," McFerren said. "That was the difference."
Pershard Owens was the Scott Central scoring runner-up with 10 points. Josh Chamberlain added nine, Caleb Johnson seven.
Heeb, summarizing the decisive defeat, said, "I just didn't think we played very well and I thought they played super. They are the most improved team in Southeast Missouri, no doubt about it."
NMCC, which opened the season 2-10, has now won five of its last eight games.
McFerren, on his team's resurgence, said, "It's a difference of night and day in the way we looked earlier in the season compared to now and that's all that matters. I'm very proud of them."
NMCC defeated Scott Central 54-42 in the junior varsity contest. Patrick Guest and Lance Price led the Eagles with 15 and 12 points, respectively. Robert Jones topped the Braves with 12.
Scott Central hosts Delta C-7 on Tuesday while NMCC returns to action, also at home, against Jackson on Friday.