The Eagles led 73-51 with 2:30 to play in the fourth quarter when Hayti started to make things very interesting.
The Indians started to heat up midway through the fourth quarter, led by junior Jamestic Gooden. With East Prairie forward Tony Jones saddled with four fouls in the fourth, Gooden started to score at will in the paint for Hayti.
While Gooden got the Indians rolling down in the post, guard K.C. Gilmer caught fire for Hayti beyond the 3-point line. Gilmer hit three 3's late in the fourth to make what was once a blowout into a nail-biter.
Trailing by 22 points with 2:30 to play in the fourth quarter, Hayti outscored East Prairie 30-11 in the next two minutes of the contest and trailed 84-81 with 20 seconds left to play.
With 20 seconds to play, East Prairie inbounded the ball to Jones who had to sky to secure the pass. Jones came back down, but lost his balance in the process and was whistled for traveling. Hayti had the ball with 10 seconds left on the clock.
"That turnover was indicative of our play late," said Schonhoff. "We were careless with the basketball and tried to force the ball into places it didn't belong. Couple that with poor shot selection and we made the game very interesting."
The Indians did not take advantage of the East Prairie turnover with 10 seconds to play. Hayti tried to find the hot hand in Gilmer, but he was closely guarded by the Eagles.
Instead, Hayti had to settle for a fall-away 30-footer from Denzel Presberry with four seconds remaining. The shot barely hit the front of the rim and East Prairie's Paris Tipler secured the rebound and was immediately fouled with 2.6 seconds.
Tipler finally sealed the game for the Eagles by hitting two free throws. Although East Prairie had to sweat it out late, the Eagles still picked up a five-
point win on homecoming night.
"We played a great game for three quarters," said Schonhoff. "However, the way the game ended, the kids should now know that they need to play a complete four quarters because no team is going to lay down for us."
It was all Eagles in the first half, led by Jones and guard Randy Woods. East Prairie jumped out to a 25-13 first-quarter advantage, as Woods hit two 3's and finished the quarter with 12 points. Jones added nine points and the Eagles full-court pressure caused Hayti to commit seven turnovers in the first.
East Prairie extended the lead to 44-31 at halftime, thanks, in large part, to more sloppy play by the Indians. Hayti had 12 turnovers in the first half which fed into the Eagles transition game.
"We were firing on all cylinders early on," said Schonhoff. "We were hitting our 3's and dominating down in the paint. We kept pressure on Hayti by mixing up our defenses, going from zone to man-to-man at times. Our defense caused a lot of turnovers in the first half and I thought we were playing at a pace that suited us well."
Hayti seemed to be a beat team when the Eagles went on a 12-4 run late in the third quarter. Heading into the fourth quarter, East Prairie led 65-41 and were feeling pretty good about their chances for a win.
It was a long eight minutes for the Eagles in the fourth quarter, especially the last three, but East Prairie survived and gained the victory.
Gooden led Hayti with 22 points and 11 rebounds (six offensive). Gilmer scored 13 of his 16 points in the final quarter and Antonio Jones chipped in 13 points for the Indians.
Hayti had more field goals than East Prairie, 29-26, and more 3-pointers, 4-3. The area that doomed the Indians was from the foul line. While East Prairie went 25-of-39 from the line, Hayti countered with only a 9-for-22 performance.
Jones had a monster night for the Eagles with 31 points and 20 rebounds (10 offensive). Woods ended with 17 points, while Tipler hit some big free throws late and had 16 points and dished out six assists.
An area for concern for the Eagles has to be their bench production. Hayti outscored East Prairie 39-8 from the bench. The defense was a big factor in the win for the Eagles as they ended with 10 steals as a team and forced the Indians to commit 19 total turnovers in the game.
Hayti (6-9) will participate in the Bootheel Conference Tournament at South Pemiscot next week.
East Prairie (12-6) travels to Scott City on Friday to face the Rams at 6 p.m.