(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
NEW MADRID -- Plagued by a cold shooting night from the floor, New Madrid County Central saw visiting Doniphan build a 17-point lead at the half on Thursday before holding on for a 81-65 win.
"We came out of the gate slow and dug ourselves a hole," NMCC head coach Travis Day said. "With good teams you can't do that, you have to be ready to play every minute. We're not doing that right now."
Only hitting 2 of their first 14 shots on the night, the Eagles (2-5) couldn't keep up with a hot start from the Dons (6-0) that was aided by 10 trips to the foul line, leading to 12 points, in the first half alone.
Getting 17 points from Derek Hutchins before the break, Doniphan was able to jump out to a 25-8 lead after the first quarter on 9 of 12 shooting, and held on to head into the half leading 44-27.
"My five starters and a couple of guys off the bench, they were into the game and we're ready to go," Dons' head coach Ray Stewart said. "We were digging on defense, boxing out and not giving them any second opportunities. Offensively we executed pretty well and made some shots."
Though NMCC had got their offense going in the second frame, holding steady with Doniphan at 19 points each, the Eagles once found themselves sliding into the distance when the Dons started third on a 15-4 run to go up 59-31.
Calling a quick timeout to settle down, the Eagles allowed Doniphan take their largest lead of the night at 63-34 before scoring 10 of the last 14 points in the quarter to close back to within 23.
Still trailing 76-55 midway through the fourth, NMCC made one final push with a 3-pointer from Gabe Smith capping a six-point rally to close the Eagles to 15 at 76-61 with 1:10 to play.
Forced to foul, however, NMCC watched the dons hit five of their 8 free throws in the final minute to ice the game.
"We're not shooting the ball well, but at the same time you have to be able to defend and keep teams from scoring," Day said. "That's where we're struggling at, we're not stopping teams from scoring right now."
On the game, Doniphan shot 27 of 53 from the floor while NMCC connected on 25 of 72 attempts.
With 17 points on the night, NMCC freshman Willie Jimerson led the Eagles on the night, hitting seven shots from inside the arc and going 3 of 5 from the free throw line.
"(Jimerson's) a freshman and we're bringing him on slowly," Day said. "He's going to get better every game for us so we'll be there at the end."
Finishing second on the Eagles, Earl Grissom had 14 points while Lamonte Nelson fought through early foul trouble to collect 11 points, all in the second half.
For Doniphan, Hutchins finished the night with as game-high 28 points. He was trailed by Brian Patterson, who contributed 23 points to the Dons' cause, including 17 in the second half.
"Patterson, he's worked hard all summer," Stewart said. "He was about 170 as a sophomore playing varsity and now he's up to about 205. He's worked hard in the weight room.
"Derek Hutchins is a scoring machine. He had 41 last year against Clearwater and 36 a couple of other games. when he gets hot he can fill it up."
Earlier in the night, NMCC's junior varsity picked up a 71-51 win over the Dons' junior varsity.
Leading the way, Asten Newsom had a game-high 16 points, including 14 in the first quarter. TJ Clark added 13 to the Eagles' cause while Vontre Jones finished with 11.
DONIPHAN (81) -- Hunter Smith 9, Hunter Dilbeck 2, Aaron Aldrich 4, Trey Payne 1, Dillon Dusza 12, James Moore 2, Brian Patterson 23, Derek Hutchison 28. FG 27, FT 25-39, F 14. (3-pointers: Smith 1, Dusza 1. Fouled out: none.)
NMCC (65) -- Earl Grissom 14, Lamonte Nelson 11, JaShawn McDaniel 5, Brandon Ray 4, Jimmy Caldwell 1, C.J. Chism 9, Tevin Winfield 4, Willie Jimmerson 17. FG 25, FT 12-16. F 28. (3-pointers: Nelson 2, McDaniel 1. Fouled out: Nelson, McDaniel.)