(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
NEW MADRID -- The Poplar Bluff Mules took advantage of untimely and often unforced New Madrid County Central turnovers on Tuesday night, downing the Eagles 52-44.
"I think we played hard for four quarters but the thing that hurt us tonight is turnovers," NMCC coach Travis Day said. "I think Bluff scored on every turnover we had and that was the outcome of the game."
NMCC turned the ball over 15 times, however, the most costly of those came early in the third quarter. Trailing just 26-24 at halftime, the Eagles quickly tied the game at 26-26 after a basket by JaShawn McDaniel to start the period. However, Poplar Bluff scored on four NMCC turnovers as the Mules outscored the Eagles 15-4 the rest of the quarter.
"The third quarter is where we had those turnovers," Day said. "We talk about our offense, getting moving and working hard but we just stood around pretty much and made silly turnovers -- turnovers you can't make to good teams. And they did what good teams do, we turned it over and they scored on it."
While NMCC was turning it over, the Poplar Bluff shooters started to find their stroke in the third quarter, picking apart the Eagle defense using precision passing to get wide open looks.
"We just became more patient," said Poplar Bluff coach Lamont Frazier. "We took our time and kind of exposed the fact they didn't really defend us as hard as we thought they were guarding us. They were guarding their men, but as far as guarding things we were doing, we were able to capitalize on some of their mistakes."
The Eagles began cutting into the Poplar Bluff lead in the final quarter, helped by a Keith Holmes 3-pointer and five straight points from Kay McClachey that cut the Mules lead to 46-40 with 2:27 to play.
Two free throws from Holmes cut the Poplar Bluff lead to 48-44 with 25 seconds remaining and the Eagles decided to foul the Mules' Kendric McCain. The 6-1 junior missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and NMCC rebounded with a chance to slice the Poplar Bluff lead even more.
McCain didn't hang his head after the miss, however, getting a steal and driving to the basket where he scored and was fouled, sealing the Poplar Bluff win.
"Kendric is that guy," Frazier said. "He'll hang around long enough and he'll pick one off at the right time. He was in the right position and it couldn't have worked out any better after him missing the free throw."
The game was nip-and-tuck the entire first half with the two teams tied at 11-11 after one. NMCC looked as if they were going to take the lead into halftime when G'Darius Stevenson scored back-to-back baskets, giving the Eagles a 24-21 lead with 1:13 remaining.
However after a basket by Poplar Bluff's Jake White cut the lead to 24-23, the Mules took the lead to end the half when Joey Bloodworth scored on a floater and was fouled with 2.4 seconds remaining. Bloodworth knocked down the free throw and Poplar Bluff took a 26-24 lead into the break.
"It just seemed like a sluggish game from the start," Frazier said. "I don't know if it was from coming down here so early or what. I thought if we could get into halftime and be close that we would have a chance of coming back out and hopefully putting something together to give us the chance to win."
NMCC was able to play with Poplar Bluff in the first half by taking advantage of numerous second chance opportunities. The Eagles outrebounded Poplar Bluff 19-11 in the first half with NMCC scoring 10 points on offensive rebounds. For the game NMCC outrebounded Poplar Bluff 34-27.
"That is one of our biggest things we talked about was getting to the boards," Day said. "I think we rebounded offensively and defensively well. We just made the unforced turnovers and they made us pay for it."
McClachey led NMCC with 14 points while pulling down nine rebounds. Stevenson added 12 points and 11 rebounds.
White paced Poplar Bluff with 14 points and eight rebounds before going down with a leg injury in the fourth quarter. Ike Anders added 10 for the Mules.
POPLAR BLUFF (52) -- Rhys Griffith 3, Michael Griggs 4, Kendric McCain 9, Jake Rathbun 1, Joey Bloodworth 5, Ike Anders 10, Nick Shrum 6, Jake White 14. FG 21, FT 5-11, F 5. (3-pointers: White 2, Griffith 1, Griggs 1, Anders 1. Fouled out: none).
NMCC (44) -- Kay McClachey 14, Keith Holmes 5, Jamareia Jones 6, G'Darius Stevenson 12, CJ Chism 3, JaShawn McDaniel 4. FG 19, FT 4-7, F 14. (3-pointers: McClachey 1, Holmes 1. Fouled out: none).
The Poplar Bluff Mules used a balanced attack that saw 10 players score in a 56-45 win over NMCC in junior varsity action.
Corey Guest had 22 points to lead NMCC while Zach Sexton scored 11 to lead the Mules.
POPLAR BLUFF (56) -- Ryan Brittingham 2, Austin Boner 2, Lance Gray 5, Tyhiem Towns 6, Mark Benton 9, Elvie Johnson 3, Lucas Tibbs 8, Zach Sexton 11, Trae Norton 6, Stacey Gibson 4. FG 23, FT 9-14, F 13. (3-pointers: Benton 1. Fouled out: none).
NMCC (45) -- Corey Guest 22, SheQuan Polk 1, Damian Glispie 2, Sherman Taylor 2, Jimmy Caldwell 4, Tevin Winfield 4, Darrin McGloson 10. FG 16, FT 11-14, F 12. (3-pointers: Guest 3, Winfield 1. Fouled out: none).
The NMCC freshman won their final game of the season on Tuesday, defeating Poplar Bluff 42-30.
Dre Wilson scored scored 16 while Recco Philips added 14 to pace NMCC.
POPLAR BLUFF (30) -- Whitworth 5, Guetterman 1, Emmons 2, Brikman 4, Phillips 5, Mannon 13. FG 10, FT 6-15, F 11. (3-pointers: Whitworth 1, Phillips 1. Fouled out: none).
NMCC (42) -- Dylan Milisits 8, Recco Philips 14, Dre Wilson 16, Deion Martin 4. FG 16, FT 8-12, F 13. (3-pointers: Milisits 2. Fouled out: none).