NEW MADRID - The New Madrid County Central Eagles boys basketball team ran into a buzz saw at home on Tuesday night, as the Eagles lost to the Blytheville Chickasaws, 72-28.
The Chicks (12-0) boast the No. 1 ranking in Class AAAA in Arkansas. Everyone on hand at NMCC on Tuesday night would not argue with that ranking.
Blytheville was unstoppable down in the paint, as 6-foot-6 senior Chris Brown scored 22 first half points and fellow 6-6 senior Chris Echols, had eight points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished out two assists and had two steals in the first half of action.
The Chicks ran out to a 6-0 run to start the ballgame and never looked back. The Eagles were outscored by 10 points in the first quarter, and by 15 points in the second quarter and trailed 41-16 heading into halftime.
Blytheville played flawless offense and defense in the first half against NMCC. Taking advantage of their superior height advantage, Blytheville outrebounded the Eagles 28-11 in the half. On the offensive glass, the Chicks gathered 14 offensive rebounds, compared to the one offensive rebound for NMCC in the first half.
"Obviously the key to the game was our inside presence," said Blytheville head coach David Hixson. "They (NMCC) played hard the entire game but gave up five or six inches down in the low post. We are coming off a tournament, and I was concerned how we would come out in this game. I believe we played our best game of the year and I am totally pleased with our kids' effort tonight."
Blytheville committed only three turnovers in the first half, while the Eagles committed nine turnovers.
Trying to fend off the 6-6 monsters down low for the Chicks, was NMCC's 5
-11 post player Antonio McIntosh. Although McIntosh had trouble guarding the low post against Blytheville, he did hold his own on the offensive end scoring eight points in the first half.
The second half was more of the same for NMCC, as the Chicks never let up and continued to pound the basketball down low. If Brown and Echols were not enough for the Eagles, Blytheville had another 6-6 post man come off the bench and contribute late in the contest.
Tewayne Smith scored 12 points and had seven rebounds in a little over a quarter's worth of action. Brown and Echols played sparingly in the second half, but the Chicks kept up their play and finished the game with a convincing 72-28 victory.
Brown finished with a game-high 24 points and had six rebounds (five offensive). Echols scored 14 points and led the Chicks with 13 rebounds.
Echols had three crowd-pleasing dunks that were all rim-rattlers. Two were off the dribble baseline drives for two-handed jams, and the other was a nicely executed sideline out-of-bounds alley-oop from sophomore guard Melvin Brooks to a streaking Echols, who caught the pass and threw down a thunderous two-hand jam.
Cal Rose hit three 3-pointers on his way to 11 points for the Chicks. Blytheville outrebounded NMCC 48-20 for the game, and had 20 offensive rebounds compared to four for the Eagles. The Chicks tallied 18 assists and committed 11 turnovers in the contest.
McIntosh finished with 12 points and four rebounds for the Eagles. Senior guard Jordan Kimball scored six points and had six assists. Marquese Gates had a good game off the bench for the Eagles, scoring six points and grabbing five rebounds.
NMCC had eight assists as a team for the game and committed 15 turnovers.
Blytheville won the junior varsity contest 45-35 over the Eagles.
NMCC (2-8) will travel south to take on the Caruthersville Tigers on Friday night with the junior varsity contest set to tip at 6 p.m.