The perfect storm ransacked the Eagles, as a combination of missing starters and excellent outside shooting by Clarkton, doomed East Prairie.
Three Eagle starters either missed the game entirely or a big portion of the game against the Reindeer. Point guard Dez Johnson sat out due to disciplinary reasons, forward Tony Jones sat out the first half due to disciplinary reasons and shooting guard Mitchell Winchester missed the game due to an ankle injury.
While East Prairie was shorthanded, no sympathy was shown by the Reindeer. Clarkton went 12-for-20 from 3's in the first half and led 55-26 at halftime.
"When we found out East Prairie would be playing without some of their starters," said Clarkton head coach Jason Long, "we wanted to put pressure on their ball handlers, because we felt they would be shaky without (Dez) Johnson. I felt the guys did a good job in the first half of putting pressure on the ball and rotating well on defense."
The Eagles started out the gates hot with a new starting lineup, outscoring Clarkton 7-0 to start the contest. The Reindeer countered with a 9-0 run and led 19-11 with 1:13 to play in the first quarter.
Freshman Dustin Ferguson hit three 3-pointers in the first and finished the quarter with nine points. Tyler Criglar, a 6-foot-2 junior forward, had eight points in the quarter, as Clarkton led 22-12 after one.
Taylor White kept the Eagles close in the first quarter with five points, including a 3-pointer and had five rebounds.
Clarkton put on a shooting exhibition in the second quarter, hitting nine 3's in the quarter. Ferguson continued his hot shooting by hitting five 3-pointers in the second. Most of the 3's hit by Ferguson were of the 25-foot variety.
Besides Ferguson, Matt Trudell hit three 3-pointers and Barry Layne rounded out the three-point assault, with a 3-pointer in the second quarter.
"We give Trudell and Ferguson the green light to shoot," said Long. "As long as they are open, those two can shoot anytime. We have some kids who can fill it up."
Ferguson hit eight 3's in the first half, good for 24 points for Clarkton. Zach Secoy led East Prairie at the break with seven points and had three steals. White ended the first half with six points and seven rebounds.
Clarkton pressed East Prairie throughout the first half and it caused some major headaches for the Eagles.
Without Johnson running the show, East Prairie committed 15 turnovers in the half.
"Although our defense has been spotty at times this year," said Long, "we have the capability of creating chaos on the floor. I thought we stepped our defense up against Campbell in the Tri-County Tournament. We can be good on defense in spurts and we want to speed the game up, make the other team take some quick shots."
East Prairie came out in the third quarter and switched from a zone defense to a man-to-man. The switch, along with Jones eligible to play in the second half, allowed the Eagles to close the gap to 64-42 with 1:52 to play in the third.
Jones had eight points, four rebounds and three assists in the third quarter, as East Prairie outscored Clarkton 22-15 in the quarter and trailed 70-48 heading into the fourth.
The Reindeer put a capper on the game with a 5-0 run to start the fourth quarter and cruised to the 91-58 victory. Ferguson led Clarkton with 24 points, all in the first half. While the Reindeer were hot shooting the 3's in the first half, the second half was a different story as the Reindeer went 0-for-8 from the 3-point stripe. Senior Steven White had 12 points, eight rebounds and led Clarkton with six assists.
Trudell had 15 points and five assists, while Criglar had 13 points and four rebounds.
Clarkton had 10 players enter the scorebook and Long admits that his club has a quality bench.
"We can go eight or nine deep," said Long. "We can look pretty good at times, then at other times, like the third quarter tonight, we seem to struggle. I would like for the kids to be more consistent."
Secoy led East Prairie with 16 points and five steals. Caleb Hatton had 15 points and nine rebounds (six offensive). Randy Woods had nine points and three assists, while Jones finished his abbreviated night with eight points, six rebounds and three assists. White had six points and led the Eagles with 10 rebounds.
"Clarkton has a good team and can really shoot the ball," said East Prairie head coach Jason Irby.
East Prairie won the battle of the boards 38-35 over Clarkton and had 17 offensive rebounds, while the Reindeer had eight. Clarkton had 15 assists as a team and the Eagles had 11 assists.
Clarkton forced East Prairie to commit 24 turnovers in the game, while the Reindeer committed 15 turnovers. The Eagles had 11 steals as a team and Clarkton had nine steals.
Clarkton (18-4) travels to Bernie on Friday night for their season finale.
East Prairie (12-12) will begin play in the Class 3, District 2 tournament as the No. 4 seed and will face No. 5 Clearwater on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Greenville.