(Chris Pobst, Staff)
Both teams got off to an uneventful start, with NMCC holding a 16-10 lead after the first quarter of play. Although the Eagles held a six-point lead after one, it was the second quarter that was the difference in the game.
"We're still not coming out of the gate like I'd like us to," said NMCC coach Travis Day.
Whatever the Eagles did wrong in the first quarter, they corrected it in a big way in the second.
Although Portageville was outscored by a total of only nine points in the other three quarters combined, an 18-point differential in the second quarter was enough to give NMCC an insurmountable lead.
The second quarter's offensive outburst was due in large part to NMCC's intensity on the defensive end. The Eagles were able to fluster the Bulldogs with tenacious pressure defense, and forced numerous turnovers. NMCC turned the turnovers into easy transition scoring opportunities.
"We started defending, and they started turning it over," Day said. "We were able to get into transition like we like to do, and we started playing like we're taught to play."
Leading the way for NMCC during the second quarter were Dontre Jenkins, who scored 12, and Kony Ealy, who added 8, including an emphatic two-handed jam.
Jenkins finished with 16 in the contest while Ealy had a game-high 19 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Jamareia Jones also reached double figures for the Eagles, adding 10 points.
NMCC was able to extend their lead yet again in the third quarter. The Eagles posted 14 points while limiting Portageville to only two field goals and eight points in the period. Heading in the final period, the Eagles held a 60-30 lead, meaning the running clock was in play for the start of the fourth quarter. This is the second game in a row that Portageville has trailed by 30 to start the fourth quarter.
"We're just trying to pull it together right now," said Bidewell. "NMCC has a lot of talent and they crash the boards really well."
It didn't help matters that Portageville struggled from the line while NMCC was nearly perfect. The Eagles hit 17 of 19 free throw attempts in the game for 89 percent, while Portageville shot only 59 percent (13-22) from the line overall.
Sophomore Tevin Walker led the way for Portageville, finishing the game with 13 points. Jake Young chipped in with nine points and eight rebounds. Of the team's 42 points, 26 were scored by underclassmen. Portageville has no seniors on their team.
"We've got a lot of youth," Bidewell said. "I'm proud of these kids for sticking it out, and hopefully when we go into districts we'll have a good showing."
Although NMCC had no trouble picking up the win, Day felt his team did not execute as well as they could have.
"It's never good enough. We played well at times, but I still think we had some turnovers we shouldn't have had," Day said. "A win is good, but I still don't think we're playing like we're capable of playing."
PORTAGEVILLE (42) -- Tevin Walker 13, Isaac Ray 2, Jansen Darst 3, Denzell Simmons 2, Dominique Walker 8, Blake Posey 5, Jake Young 9. FG 15 FT 13-22 F 17. (3-pointers: Darst 1, D. Walker 1. Fouled out: none.)
NMCC (69) -- Dontre Jenkins 16, Keith Holmes 2, Jamareia Jones 10, G'Darius Stevenson 8, Kony Ealy 19, CJ Chism 3, William Bledsoe 9, Armando Thatch 2. FG 25 FT 17-19 F 19. (3-pointers: Jenkins 1, Jones 1. Fouled out: none.)