No. 1 seed Charleston Bluejays (23-3) pounded the Caruthersville Tigers 114-43 and will meet the East Prairie Eagles (18-8) in one semifinal game on Thursday at 6 p.m. The Eagles survived the Kelly Hawks, 73-67.
In other first round action, the third seeded Portageville Bulldogs downed the host Eagles, 60-51. No. 2 seed Scott City Rams (18-7) flew past the Kennett Indians, 70-55. Portageville (17-7) will battle Scott City in the second semifinal game on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
East Prairie took advantage of 26 Kelly turnovers in the game to move to the semifinals.
Despite the full-court pressure of the Eagles, most of the Hawks turnovers were unforced.
"The story tonight as it was all season," said Kelly Cory Johnson, "was turnovers. It has been our Achilles' Heel. We made turnovers in big situations when we needed good looks at the basket. Give credit to East Prairie, they are aggressive and got out and tipped some of our passes."
The Eagles opened the game on a 12-2 run and led 20-12 after one quarter of action. The guard trio of Paris Tipler, M.C. Williams and Randy Woods combined to score 13 points in the quarter, taking advantage of seven Kelly turnovers in the first.
Kelly (9-16) started to make a focused effort to get the ball in the paint in the second quarter. Behind senior Spencer Ayers and Dallas Tew, the Hawks went on a 9-2 run early in the quarter and tied the game at 22.
"Our goal coming into the game was to get the ball inside and get (Tony) Jones in some foul trouble, "said Johnson. "I thought we did a decent job of that in the first half."
Ayers finished with eight points in the second, while Tew went for seven points for Kelly. The Hawks dominance in the first half was seen in the rebounding department. Kelly outrebounded East Prairie 23-13, including 8-2 on the offensive end. The Hawks outscored the Eagles 18-8 in the quarter to take a 31-28 lead into the half.
"We didn't do a good job defending the paint in the first half," said East Prairie head coach Matt Schonhoff. "Our guys down low lost track of the Ayers kid and he dominated early. Ayers likes to go from the high to low post to receive the basketball. We didn't adjust and he just killed us."
Kelly led 42-36 with 4:30 left in the third quarter, when the Eagles went on a 13-3 run to take a 49-45 lead late in the quarter. After a quiet first half, Jones picked up his play with six points in the quarter. Woods led the Eagles with seven point.
The Hawks still led 50-49 entering the fourth quarter due to timely shooting beyond the 3-point line in the third. Zach Hamm hit a late 3-pointer and sharp-shooter Tyler Thurman nailed the second of his two 3's in the third.
The Hawks led 59-54 with 5:20 to play in the fourth quarter due to solid foul shooting. In the quarter, Kelly went 7-for-8 to build the lead.
While the Hawks were solid from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter, the had issues holding on to the basketball. Kelly committed nine turnovers in the fourth to open the door for East Prairie.
The Eagles went on a 12-2 run midway through the fourth and led 62-59 with 2:50 to play in the game.
"The turnovers late were just forced," said Johnson. "We had success early throwing the ball inside, but in the second half East Prairie started to deny the entry pass. Instead of moving the ball around the perimeter, we tried to force it inside and they took advantage."
Kelly cut the lead to 62-61 and seemed to have the momentum, until Woods came up with a big steal and lay-in the other way to build the Eagle lead up to 64-61. From that point forward, East Prairie started to drain their foul shots and jumped the lead up to 68-61 with a minute to play. The Eagles 7-
for-10 from the foul line late in the game.
"Our defense spurred us on tonight," said Schonhoff. "The staple of our system is pressure and we did a good job of it in the fourth quarter. We have good athletes with long reaches and they can get out and tip to force a steal. Our transition game helped us get some easy looks late. We sealed the game with solid defense."
Kelly hit two late 3's with under a minute to play, but the Eagles hit their free-throws to win the game 73-67.
Ayers led the Hawks in scoring and rebounding with 23 points and 16 rebounds. Tew ended his night with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Hamm contributed 10 points and five boards in his last game. Kyle Chipman led Kelly with five assists.
"I hate to lose our seniors," said Johnson. "They are good kids who always gave maximum effort. All of our kids played hard this year. We just couldn't get over the hump."
Woods had 22 points and five steals for East Prairie. Tipler had a stellar all-
around game with 17 points, six rebounds, six steals and a team-high five assists. Jones ended with 14 points, 13 rebounds and four steals for the Eagles.
Senior Tyler Branam chipped in 10 points and Williams finished with eight points, four rebounds and three assists.
While Kelly outrebounded East Prairie 40-30 in the contest, the Eagles nullified the difference with 18 steals, compared to six for the Hawks.
The Bulldogs used solid bench production to get past an aggressive Eagle team.
Portageville reserves outscored NMCC 13-3 in the first half and built a 28-18 lead.
"Our bench players were a vital and crucial part of the win tonight," said Portageville head coach Jim Bidewell. "A couple of our starters got into foul trouble because they didn't move their feet. In stepped our bench guys and they really stepped up."
A Terrale Jones 3-pointer at the buzzer of the second quarter gave the Bulldogs their 10-point lead. NMCC (5-19) had issues putting the ball in the basket with two players doing most of the damage in junior Lance Price and sophomore Bryan Waters. The duo combined to score 14 of NMCC's 18 first half points.
"I thought we were a little passive on offense in the first half," said NMCC Travis Day. "We got some young guys that were probably a little nervous tonight. We missed some easy lay-ups early and we got into a little hole. The guys need to learn to keep moving on the offensive end. Tonight, we just stood around waiting for someone else to do something."
Portageville maintained a 10-point lead midway through the third quarter and were starting to take control of the paint. Senior Marcus Greene and freshman Kony Ealy combined to score nine points in the quarter to lead Portageville. Greene made the score 39-31 heading into the fourth quarter with a breakaway lay-in with five seconds left in the third.
NMCC trailed 44-33 with 6:30 to play in the contest when they started to make a final push at the Bulldogs. Over the next four minutes in the quarter, the Eagles went on a 11-2 run and trailed 46-44 with 2:30 to play. Price led the charge for the Eagles with nine points in the quarter.
With momentum seemingly on the side of the Eagles, Greene drove hard to the basket for the Bulldogs and got a much-needed two points for Portageville to up the lead to 48-44.
The Eagles shot themselves in the foot late in the game with turnovers. Ealy jumped in front of a NMCC pass and went down the court an uncontested thunderous dunk and Portageville led 50-44 with two minutes to play.
"They took advantage of our mistakes with easy baskets," said Day. "Turnovers and missed assignments on defense kept us from recording an upset."
Even when Portageville's leading scorer, Trey Mosby, fouled out with a little under two minutes to play, the Bulldogs held on thanks to the play of sophomore Byron Wright.
Wright scored nine of his 11 points off the bench for the Bulldogs in the fourth to help Portageville reach the semifinals with a 60-51 victory. The Bulldog bench scored 22 of the team's 60 points.
"New Madrid is a tough matchup for us," said Bidewell. "To be honest they are just quicker and stronger than our guys. We just tried to keep them from driving to the basket."
Greene led Portageville with 15 points. Ealy continues to improve his play as a freshman and had 13 points, eight rebounds, four steals and two blocks.
Portageville outrebounded NMCC 32-27, but committed 17 turnovers in the game.
Price led the Eagles with 22 points and seven rebounds. Bryan Waters had 10 points and three steals. Dijuan Waters contributed eight points off the Eagle bench.
"Even though we loss," said Day, "I am proud the way our guys fought. We have a lot to build on here. Brighter days are ahead for our program."
The Bluejays were never challenged in the contest and had 13 players contribute with points on offense.
Charleston started the game on a 12-0 run and led 29-4 after one quarter of action. The 'Jays suffocating defense forced 10 turnovers and had eight steals in the first. Senior Shawn Sherrell had three steals in the quarter to lead Charleston.
Jamarcus Williams set the tone inside for the Bluejays in the first quarter with 13 points. Justin Clark pumped in seven quick points in the first to pace Charleston.
Caruthersville has lost most of their starters from the beginning of the year due to numerous issues. The Tigers were clearly outmatched and trailed 58-13 at the half. Charleston forced the Tigers to commit 18 turnovers in the first half.
While Williams did most of the damage in first quarter for the 'Jays, Brian Parham came off the bench in the second quarter to control the inside. Parham had 10 points in the quarter, as the Tigers had no answers.
Charleston head coach Danny Farmer substituted liberally throughout the first and second halves. Still, the bench of the Bluejays had too much talent. Of the 'Jays 114 points, 62 of them came from the bench.
The Bluejays had six players reach double-figures led by Williams with 18 points and hauled down seven rebounds (five offensive) in limited action. Clark and Parham had 16 points apiece. Sherrell ended with 12 points, five assists and four steals in limited duty. Joseph Watts and Antonio Johnson had 11 and 10 points respectively for Charleston.
Senior Marcus Cagle led the Tigers with 15 points and eight rebounds. Spencer Haywood hit three 3's and ended with nine points.