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NMCC rallies to beat Cape Central in overtime

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Price hits the game-winner with 3.2 seconds left

NEW MADRID--New Madrid County Central won it's fifth game in a row on Friday night, as they defeated the Cape Central Tigers in an overtime thriller, by a score of 62-60.

The game started off with a quick 3-pointer from Cape Central's Anthony Watts, only to have the favor returned on NMCC's first possession by Dontre Jenkins, and that set the tone for the whole evening.

After a back-and-forth first quarter, the Eagles took over the lead 19-12 heading into the second.

The Tigers went on a short 3-point shooting frenzy late in the second quarter, with Shane Nolen's two 3-pointers and one from Anthony Watts, sending Cape Central into the locker room at halftime with a two point lead, 33-31. The Tigers outscored NMCC in the second quarter 21-12.

At halftime, NMCC head coach Travis Day said he told his kids that they were starting to look like the Eagles' teams of the past.

"(I told them) I thought that in the second quarter, we took a step back from how we've been playing," Day said. "They hit about two or three 3-pointers in a row on us, and I thought we hung our heads and started feeling sorry for ourselves. I basically challenged them, I said 'Guys, I don't care who's in this locker room, we're going to battle. You're either with me or you're not'."

Day's challenge must have gotten through, because in the second half, the Eagles came fighting back, stepping up the defensive pressure out front on Cape Central, causing the turnover's to start raining down instead of the 3-

pointers.

Although the Tigers outscored NMCC in the third quarter, 13-10, the momentum was beginning to swing the Eagles way, as they headed into the fourth and final quarter of regulation.

In the fourth quarter, the game had countless lead changes after NMCC battled their way back from an eight point deficit.

It was Jenkins once again from beyond the arc for the Eagles, evening the score at 49 apiece with 4:29 left to play, and from there the madness began. Two minutes after the big 3-pointer, Jenkins fouled out, causing NMCC to rely on a bench player to run the offense. The Eagles handled the pressure well, and despite having Kony Ealy, Lance Price and Justin Beasley all in foul trouble, they battled into the final minute of regulation, where it was Ealy who followed up a Price missed lay-up, for a rebound, followed by a foul, and a chance to even the score back up at 55.

Ealy hit one, and the score was evened, leaving Cape Central a chance to go for the win after calling a timeout with 5.8 seconds left.

The Tigers drove the length of the floor, and a desperation 3-point attempt failed to connect, setting up bonus action in overtime.

The overtime began the same way that regulation did, with NMCC controlling the tip, but giving up points to Cape Central first, as Nolen scored two to put the Tigers ahead 57-55.

Chase Johnson was then sent to the line after a missed opportunity on the Eagles end of the floor, where he hit one of two, extending the lead to 58-55 in favor of Cape Central.

With 1:49 remaining, Price was sent to the line for NMCC, hitting one of two, and the next trip down the court, he was the defensive force, causing a turnover with a steal, and setting up Josh Minner for a shot in the lane, where he was fouled.

Minner was clutch, as he hit both free-throws, tying the game at 58.

The next visit to the Tigers end of the floor was also unkind, as it was Price again with the steal, who in turn set-up Ealy with two points from inside the paint, giving NMCC a 60-58 lead.

Cape Central seemed to be going down, until Bell drove the lane, dropping a spin-move on the Eagle defense and converting for two points and the tie at 60 apiece, with 40 seconds remaining on the clock.

NMCC inbounded the ball, and Day quickly called a timeout with 33.7 left to go in overtime.

As the crowd began to gather along the rails in the upper-deck in the NMCC gym, Price had possession of the ball and took control, driving the lane and with 3.2 seconds left he hit for two points as the Tiger defense came up too late.

Cape Central had 3.2 left on the clock, as it was Jajuan Bell who had a chance for the highlight, but his shot failed to connect, sealing the fifth win in a row for the Eagles, with the 62-60 win.

"This was a heck of a game," Day said. "It was one of those I wish I was in the stands watching. What I like about our team was that we kept fighting. We had a few out due to sickness, and we lost our point guard halfway through the fourth quarter, but we kept fighting."

"They're (Cape Central) a great 3-point shooting team," he added. "We just needed a couple of those to not fall, and they helped us out there."

Price, who hit the game winning shot, for a moment was speechless after the game.

"It felt great," Price said. "I was thinking that I had the ball in my hands, and it was all on me, because I missed the first two free-throws. (Cape Central's) defense was real tough, and they played hard. It was a battle."

Price finished the game with 10 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Ealy led the Eagles in scoring, with 15 points, going 5-for-6 at the line. He also recorded 15 rebounds, three steals, two assists and a block.

Minner chipped in 14 points, nine rebounds and a block, while Jenkins helped out with 13 points and five steals.

On the losing end, Cape Central was led by Bell in scoring, with 20 points, going 4-for-7 at the charity stripe and connecting on two 3-pointers, while Watts and Nolen each added 13 points apiece. Watts had three 3-pointers of his own, while Nolen hit two 3's.

NMCC hosts Twin Rivers on Tuesday, with junior varsity action starting at 6 p.m. and the varsity contest to follow.

In junior varsity action, Cape Central came out on top, 66-31.

The Tigers trailed by one after the first quarter, but outscored NMCC in the second quarter, 23-2, and 30-15 in the second half, sealing the victory.

Blake Ozbun led in scoring for Cape Central with 22 points, connecting for two 3-pointers.

For the Eagles, Tyler Johnson scored 12, going 4-for-7 at the line.