BENTON -- The defensive pressure of the New Madrid County Central Eagles proved to be too much for the Kelly Hawks to handle as the Eagles downed the Hawks 63-30 Friday night in Benton.
(David Jenkins, Staff)
NMCC head coach Travis Day felt his team came out flat in Friday's contest.
"We came out a little slow tonight," Day said. "This is a great atmosphere and they (Kelly) will make you do that. Kelly came out and executed their game plan early by not giving us anything in the paint and really slowed us down. They made us earn everything. I think our defense finally wore them down in the second half and that is what we always look to do.
"That's the thing about playing basketball in this area, every night is tough going. I knew Kelly would come out hard, I'm just glad we got things going in the second half."
The Eagles were led tonight by their pair of post players, Josh Minner and Kony Ealy. The two recorded 16 and 15 points respectively and combined for two assists, 12 rebounds, four steals, and a block.
NMCC point guard Dontre Jenkins also made important contributions to the winning effort with 12 points, three assists, four rebounds, and three steals.
A key factor in the closeness in the game early was Kelly's (6-6) ability to contest the Eagles main strength of rebounding.
NMCC has out rebounded many of their opponents this year by margins of 2 to 1 and 3 to 1. However, in Fridays match up, NMCC pulled down 33 rebounds to the Hawks 20.
Day felt his team was lackadaisically rebounding early in the contest.
"I think we did not box out well early tonight," he said. "We kind of stood around and expected some one else to get the rebound. Kelly did a good job of boxing out and pulling some of those down early in the game. Sometimes you just got to get after your kids about that and we got better rebounding in the second half."
(David Jenkins, Staff)
"I was impressed with our rebounding," Wills said. "I know that is a big part of their (NMCC's) game and it is something we have really worked on in practice. We always work on defense but we have stressed rebounding more the last couple of days and I think it paid off some tonight as we were able to take away some of their second shots. Later in the game, they got a few more boards."
Wills felt the biggest factor in his team's defeat Friday was the defensive pressure of the Eagles.
"I give them (NMCC) a lot of credit for taking us out of our offensive rhythm," Wills said. Their pressure did not allow us to get the shots that we normally take. We had to set a lot more ball screens than we usually have to. Their defensive pressure was the biggest factor in the game to me. We just didn't handle the pressure well."
Turnovers were critical in the game, as the Eagles caused the Hawks to turn the ball over 14 more times than they themselves turned it over.
Although the turnovers did not lead to many transition points, it did set up the NMCC offense.
"Their transition game didn't hurt us as much as I thought it would tonight," Wills said. "But they were able to get steals and set up their offense. I give coach Day a lot of credit, they played very disciplined on the offensive end."