The Braves jumped out to a 41-29 lead at halftime, as they outscored the Eagles 27-14 in the second quarter.
NMCC had trouble breaking Scott Central's full-court pressure in the first half. The Eagles committed 15 turnovers in the half and the Braves' Caleb Johnson dominated in the post with 17 points in the half to pace Scott Central.
"The second quarter was just horrible," said NMCC head coach Travis Day. "That quarter sealed our loss. It is simple, we just didn't take care of the basketball. The thing about our turnovers, they were mostly unforced. Scott Central just waited for us to make a mistake."
Scott Central jumped on the Eagles early in the first with a 10-0 run and led 12-3 with five minutes to go in the quarter. In the first three minutes of the game, NMCC committed five turnovers. Besides a full-court press, once the Eagles crossed halfcourt, the Braves slapped on a trap which caused more issues for NMCC.
In the second half, NMCC slowed down the tempo and started to take better care of the basketball. The Eagles outscored Scott Central 17-10 in the third quarter and were led by junior Lance Price who pumped in eight points in the quarter. NMCC only had two turnovers in the third and trailed 51-46 heading into the final quarter.
"At halftime I tried to explain to the guys how to beat a press," said Day. "In the first half we had tunnel vision. We kept our eyes on one person only. We had to start to swing the ball and stop this one-sided passing. I thought we did a nice job in the second half of finding the man in the middle. Scott Central was effective early of getting us in the corners. That is where a press can be deadly."
The Eagles continued the comeback deep into the fourth quarter. Scott Central's lead was cut to 70-68, as junior Leslie Williams of the Eagles converted a conventional 3-point with 1:30 to play in the game.
Scott Central aided the comeback for NMCC with five turnovers in the fourth quarter.
"I think we kind of wore them down late in the game," said Day. "I thought their guards got tired late in the second half and started to make some mistakes they were not making early in the game."
Johnson returned the favor for Scott Central on their next offensive possession. After a missed shot, Johnson collected the offensive rebound and got the put-back in addition to being fouled on the play. Johnson hit the free-throw to put the Braves up 73-68 with one minute to play.
Down the stretch for Scott Central, Johnson was clutch from the foul line. With 26 seconds left in the game, Johnson hit his sixth and seventh straight free-throws of the quarter and put the Braves up 75-70.
NMCC fought back and cut into the lead on a Patrick Guest lay-in with 10 seconds remaining and the Eagles trailed 75-72.
The Eagles slapped on a full-court press as time wilted away off the clock. The Braves tried to drive down the sideline but was cut off by two Eagle defenders close to halfcourt. The Scott Central ball-handler tried to pivot away from the trap. As the ball-handler spun around, Williams of the Eagles came from behind and stole the ball.
Williams had a wide open look for a lay-up to cut the Braves lead to one. Unfortunately for Eagle fans, the ball rolled off the rim and Johnson collected the rebound for the Braves with 2.9 seconds left in the game.
Johnson closed out the contest by hitting two free-throws, which made nine straight for him in the fourth and the Braves survived.
Price scored 17 of his team-high 21 points in the second half to lead the comeback for the Eagles. Price also led the team with four assists. Darrence Perkins had 15 points and led NMCC with nine rebounds (five offensive). Williams ended his night with 10 points, four rebounds and three steals.
NMCC outrebounded Scott Central in the contest 32-23. After committing 15 turnovers in the first half, the Eagles cut it down to five in the second half. NMCC's bench outscored Scott Central's 11-0 for the game.
Johnson led Scott Central with 28 points, hauled down six rebounds and had five steals. D.D. Gillespie had 18 points and Thomas ended with 14 points. Freshman Bobby Hatchett continued his solid play at the point for the Braves with 11 points, seven assists, six steals and grabbed four rebounds. The other starter for Scott Central, Mark Freed, tallied six points, six rebounds and had three steals.
The Braves had 17 steals as a team, but the category that Scott Central controlled was from the charity stripe. Scott Central hit 19 free-throws, while the Eagles hit on only six for the game.
NMCC (4-15) hosts Jackson on Friday at 6 p.m. Scott Central (15-4) hosts the Risco Tigers on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
The Risco Tigers lost on their homecoming to the Richland Rebels on Friday night, 79-58.
A bad fourth quarter spelled doom for the Tigers. The Rebels outscored Risco 29-18 in the quarter to seal the win.
"We cut the deficit down to three midway through third quarter," said Risco head coach Brandon Blankenship. "From there through the fourth, we just beat ourselves with turnovers and they killed us on the boards."
Senior Cameron Whittaker led Richland with 27 points, while freshman Drew Thornton pumped in 19 points.
"That Thornton kid just controlled the boards for Richland, "said Blankenship. "They are well coached and run a solid offense. Coach (Casey) Knight has got them playing well."
Senior guard Ricky Davis led Risco with 25 points and Kyle White hit four 3's on his way to 18 points.
Richland (9-9) travels to Clarkton on Friday at 6 p.m. Risco (4-13) travels to Deering to take on the Delta C-7 Chargers on Monday. Since the Chargers do not have a junior varsity team, the varsity game will tip at 6 p.m.