BLOOMFIELD -- Rebounding from a rough stretch early in the second half, the New Madrid County Central Lady Eagles closed out the Class 3, District 1 Tournament on Friday with a 67-55 win over Doniphan to capture their first title under head coach David Crockett.
"It's unbelievable," Crocket said. "Really I can't put it into words. Those girls in that locker room bought into everything I've been teaching over the years and it finally paid off tonight.
"We finally got that monkey off our back and got in the finals. Now we have a district title and we're ecstatic."
Holding a nine-point advantage to open the third quarter, NMCC quickly saw things head south as they only converted one of their first 11 shots in the half.
With the Lady Eagles' offense stalling, the Donettes took charge, opening up a 13-3 rally in the first three minutes, 30 seconds of the half. It was on basket in the paint from Micah Smith that Doniphan retook the lead at 38-37.
Calling a timeout, NMCC responded with a dominant final four minutes of the quarter where they held Doniphan without a field goal while scoring nine straight points.
It was on Childress' bucket to start the run that the Lady Eagles were able to take the lead for good, at 39-38, before finishing the frame with a 46-39 advantage.
"We had the lead and they cut it back down," Crockett said. "But I have faith in my team and they have faith in each other.
"We came out finally and we made our run again and that's what we're about. We're going to make runs."
Trying desperately to keep their season alive, the Donettes opened the third with a basket in the paint from Magen Hipps to close back within five points. Squashing hopes of a quick Doniphan comeback, however, Rashaunda Summers hit a quick 3-pointer before Childress contributed eights points to a 12-3 NMCC rally that pushed the Lady Eagles lead back into the double-digits at 58-46.
Matching the Donettes shot-for-shot the rest of the way, NMCC was able to hold on for the win.
"Our seniors didn't want this to be their last game and they went out and gave it their all," Doniphan head coach Erika Smith said. "They got us going on a little run, but (NMCC) is just so much more athletic and we couldn't defensively rebound."
As the final minute ticked away and the Lady Eagles still holding a double-digit lead, McGloson, felt the realization of winning the title finally sink in.
"I was about to cry," she said. "But I held it in because I didn't want anybody to see me crying.
"With a couple second left my stomach started tingling, I got butterflies and was super nervous."
McGloson had 19 points on the contest as one of three Lady Eagles to put up double-digits. Childers led the way with 20 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter while Summers had 14.
"We just had to step out game up tonight," said Childress. "We were feeding off each other."
With neither team taking more than a three-point advantage in the first 14 minutes of play, the Lady Eagles suddenly got hot in the final two minutes of the first half to take a nine-point lead into the locker room.
Down 23-20, Karen McGloson got a bucket in the paint to open up a 13-2 run that pushed NMCC ahead 33-25 when Benesha Childress stole the ball and went in for an open layup with 15 second before the break.
Going back to the line on a foul at the buzzer, Childress converted one of her two shots to put the Lady Eagles up by nine points.
"I think fatigue settle in a little on them," Crockett said of Doniphan. "I told my assistant that halftime came a little too soon. We had them, I felt, on the ropes right then.
"They got a little reprieve, a little second wind, at halftime and then battled us hard."
NMCC will play Seymour (28-0) in a Class 3 Sectional game at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at the West Plains Civic Center.
NMCC (67) -- Dallas Campbell 5, Amirah Ruff 3, Whitney Williams 3, Aqwanness Johnson 3, Benesha Childress 20, Karen McGloson 19, Rashaunda Summers 14. FG 28, FT 7-21, F 19. (3-pointers: Campbell 1, Ruff 1, Childress 1, Summers 1. Fouled out: none.)
DONIPHAN (55) -- Micah Smith 13, Megan Hipps 21, Raven Sturgeon 12, Emily Stonecipher 2, Sinora Mohamann 2, Halle McCaffey 5. FG 21, FT 11-21, 19. (3-pointers: Smith 1, Hipps 1. Fouled out: Hipps, McCaffey.)