(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
NEW MADRID -- Senior Night at New Madrid County Central didn't start out as planned.
The Eagles missed their first 12 shots and fell behind 18-0 to the Caruthersville Tigers in the first quarter and dropped their final home game of the season 68-49 on Tuesday night.
"That's kind of been our year," NMCC coach Travis Day said. "We dig ourselves a hole and the next thing you know we spend the rest of the game trying to get out of the hole."
The Eagles couldn't buy a basket in the early going and Caruthersville took advantage by grabbing nearly every rebound and turning it into points on the offensive end to the tune of an 18-0 lead. NMCC finally scored when JaShawn McDaniel scored his only basket of the game at the 1:13 mark in the first quarter.
Caruthersville (19-5) led 21-4 after one and increased their lead to 38-20 at halftime as the Tigers got numerous second and third opportunities to score off of offensive rebounds.
"You can't let good teams get two, three, four opportunities at every basket," Day said. "(Caruthersville) just dominated the boards on us and that's what good teams do. We have to get back to the drawing board and work on rebounding and get ready for districts."
NMCC was outrebounded 30-9 in the first half and 46-27 in the game.
"We preach to finish the play," said Caruthersville coach David Heeb. "It doesn't do any good to play defense and watch them get the rebound. Our kids have done a lot better job of that the last couple of weeks."
With an 18-point deficit heading into the second half, the game seemed to be well in hand, but NMCC had other ideas. The Eagles started the quarter on a 12-2 run, finished off by a Keith Holmes layup after a steal, cutting the lead to 40-32 with 5:08 remaining in the third.
"That run is what we've been working on since day one," Day said. "We finally took care of the ball and gave ourself a chance."
While NMCC (4-18) wasn't turning the ball over in that stretch, they also took advantage of a switch from man-to-man to a halfcourt trap that seemed to cause the Tigers problems.
"It was just trying to change something up," Day said of the defensive switch. "We've been working on for districts and it worked for us when we got into it. I think it hurt them a little bit because they haven't seen us do it. Everybody always thinks of us as being a man-to-man team but right now we don't have the horses to do that."
With the lead down to eight, Caruthersville called a timeout and came out with an eight-point run, helped by six points from 6-2 freshman Darrell Monroe who finished with a game-high 24.
"I wasn't going to call a timeout and just let them play through it and see how they responded," Heeb said. "Darrell had one play where he just kind of watched so I said something to him and after that I thought the rest of the time he was real aggressive and taking it to basket. He had a good ballgame and he has a chance to be a good player."
Trailing 52-40 after three, NMCC twice cut the lead down to 10-points in the final frame but the Eagles could never get any closer as Caruthersville began to slowly put the game out of reach, keyed by a David Shaw 3-pointer and several baskets off of drives to the basket.
"I told the officials at the end of the game that they really let us play and I thought our kids didn't react to that very well," Heeb said. "After we got ahead, we just kind of let some of the physical play get to us, but I told the officials we needed that. Next week their going to make you send each other home, the referees aren't going to get involved and they are going to let you play.
"I thought as the game went on we adjusted to the physical part of it, but New Madrid is going to be physical. Travis' kids are always going to play hard and they certainly did tonight and I think this game was a lot closer than the score would indicate."
Besides Monroe's 24 points, Belton McWilliams scored 15 and grabbed eight rebounds for the Tigers while Claude Taylor added 12 points and 14 rebounds.
Senior Datrae Hicks led NMCC with 14 points while fellow senior Keith Holmes added 11.
The game was the final regular season home game for seniors Kay McClachey, Holmes, Jamareia Jones, G'Darius Stevenson, Hicks and Frank Harrell.
"They work their butt off," Day said. "I wish it would have been a better year for them. They are the type of kids that whatever we asked them to do they did for us. You hate to see them go but you wish them well."
NMCC won the junior varsity game 62-52.
CARUTHERSVILLE (68) -- Darrell Monroe 24, Belton McWilliams 15, Claude Taylor 12, Elbie Fonda 6, Vohland Fonda 6, David Shaw 3, Jamal Johnson 2. FG 30, FT 3-13, F 12. (3-pointers: McWilliams 1, Shaw 1, E. Fonda 1. Fouled out: none).
NMCC (49) -- Datrae Hicks 14, Keith Holmes 11, Lamonte Nelson 6, CJ Chism 6, Jamareia Jones 4, G'Darius Stevenson 4, Earl Grissom 2, JaShawn McDaniel 2. FG 21, FT 6-12, F 11. (3-pointers: Holmes 1. Fouled out: none).