(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
NEW MADRID -- Recently coming off of a surprise win over SEMO Conference foe Notre Dame just a few weeks ago, NMCC has been hit or miss when it comes to performing on the hardwood.
The Eagles found their game on Tuesday escaping Blytheville, Ark., 58-56 in overtime at New Madrid County Central High School.
"We're like the Dow Jones," NMCC head coach Travis Day said. "We end up beating a good team and you think we're on our way, but the next night, we're not ready to play. We're just not consistent right now and hopefully a game like this can carry over."
NMCC led the Chickasaws from the opening minutes of the first quarter up until the early seconds of the fourth quarter when Blytheville 6-5 senior, Greg McKillion converted on a 3-point play to give his squad a 37-35 advantage.
Four lead changes and five ties followed in the fourth quarter until NMCC senior Lemonte Nelson pushed the Eagles' lead to 53-30 with just 7.9 seconds left in regulation at the free throw line.
Nelson went 1 of 2 at the charity stripe, needing just one more to fall to, more than likely, end the game there.
However, Nelson's 1 of 2 performance left room for Blytheville to counter with a chance to tie.
Blytheville's Keandre Diamond took advantage of that opportunity as he raced down floor, pulled up from the left side of the arch and drained a long ball at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.
"You know when you miss the free throw to seal it, something bad is going to happen," said Day. "But, we didn't get our heads down after that. We kept our composure in the overtime."
With 1:17 left in overtime, junior Darrin McGloson, who led NMCC with 18 points, hit a jumper from the top of the key to give NMCC a 55-53 lead, giving the Eagles an advantage they would not relinquish.
Harold Beverly hit one free throw to cut NMCC's lead in half. Nelson, however, made up for his missed free throw earlier by nailing a crucial jumper with 43 seconds left giving his team a 57-54 advantage.
Blytheville cut it to one point again with 23 seconds left, but a made free throw from NMCC senior CJ Chism eventually sealed the win for the Eagles as Blytheville's final shot attempt went awry as time expired.
"We shot the ball well and we didn't turn the ball over in the overtime," Nelson said. "That's something we've had problems with throughout the year. That was the big thing that helped us win it.
"We just have to stay consistent."
The Eagles (4-7) led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter, but Blytheville managed to climb back in it with a 13-4 run to end the third.
"We lost a little of our poise but we didn't lose much of it," Day said. "We needed a game like this where it gets close and we can finish. Blytheville is a good defensive team. They made it hard for us to score at times. But, I like the way we were patient and looked for the good shot."
Nelson scored 13 points for the Eagles while CJ Chism added 11.
Both Diamond and Raymond Golphin led Blytheville with 13 points apiece.
BLYTHEVILLE (56) -- Keandre Diamond 13, Raymond Golphin 13, Harold Beverly 5, Greg Mckillion 7, Arkestion Strought 12, Damion Wilson 2, Daniel Deffenbang 4. FG 20 FT 8-11 F 15 (3-pointers: Diamond 1, Strought 2. Fouled out: none.)
NMCC (58) -- Lamonte Nelson 13, Willie Jimmerson 6, JaShawn McDaniel 3, Brandon Ray 4, Jimmy Caldwell 3, CJ Chism 11, Darrin McGloson 18. FG 23 FT 9-16 F 14 (3-pointers: Jimmerson 2, Caldwell 1. Fouled out: Jimmerson.)