"That first eight minutes ended up being decisive tonight," Portageville head coach Jason Irby said. "I really can't explain why we came out so flat.
"Of course Bernie knocked down some shots, but defensively we didn't do the things we needed to do."
B.J. Jennings knocked down four 3-pointers for Bernie in the first seven minutes of the game, leading the Mules to a 20-6 lead going into the second frame.
Portageville finally found their rhythm on a 10-1 run to start the second quarter and by halftime only trailed 28-25.
Bernie pulled out six points to start the fourth, but with 1:48 left to play, the Bulldogs knotted things up at 45-45 with a 3-pointer from A.V. Banks.
A few missed shots allowed the Mules to pull ahead by six with 18 seconds remaining before another clutch shot from Banks behind the arc closed Portageville back to within a score.
With only 7.1 seconds to tie things up the Bulldogs made one last defensive stand to force a Mule turnover on an inbounds play on Portageville's baseline.
The Bulldogs inbounded and launched a quick, unsuccessful 3-point attempt that wound up out of bounds after some fighting in the paint with Portageville maintaining possession.
Only 1.9 seconds remained when the Bulldogs inbounded from their base line straight to the top of the arc where a Bulldog sat unguarded. He sent up a shot only to see it bounce off the rim and to the right side of the court as time expired.
"It looked good where I was at," Irby said of the final shot. "It was straight on. (The shooter) is not one of our three-point shooter necessarily, but at that point you don't have a timeout and are just glad to get an open look.
"We got an open look, it just didn't do down."
Critical in the win was the Mules clutch free throw shooting in the final two minutes of play as they were perfect on their final six shots from the charity stripe on the night.
They finished the game 16 of 21 (76 percent) from the line while the Bulldogs went 12 for 21 (57) percent in the contest.
"We got contributions from a lot of different kids," Bernie head coach Brad Botsch said. "We shot free throws better tonight and showed some guts at different times.
"When Portageville went on a run we'd emphasize being sure we stopped it and I thought we did a good job of that."
Bernie was led by 20 points from David Baker while Jennings finished with 15, all on 3-pointers.
For Portageville, Dominique Walker had a team-high 15 points with A.V. Banks close behind, scoring 14.
After nearly coming back to win after such a rough start, Irby credited the Bulldogs troubles on the boards as the main cause for the loss.
"I know at the end of the first quarter they had out-rebounded us 10-3 and that can't happen," Irby said. "There's no excuse for that. We have big, strong kids who are athletic and we just didn't put bodies on them.
"I thought if you look at one stat, that was the decisive stat. They out-rebounded us on the game and that shouldn't happen."
After making their way to the championship game in last season's tournament, Portageville moves over to the fifth-place bracket with the loss. They'll play Hayti on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. with the winner moving on to play for fifth place in the tournament.
Bernie advances to the tournament semifinals, where they will meet Holcomb Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
BERNIE (53) -- Landon Woods 6, B.J. Jennings 15, Jake Wagner 3, Bubby Schwent 3, David Baker 20, Sam Turner 6. FG 16, FT 16-21, F 22. (3-pointers: Jennings 5. Fouled out: none.)
PORTAGEVILLE (50) -- Dion Foster 5, Dominique Walker 15, Robert Anderson 2, Denzell Simmons 1, A.V. Banks 14, Daniel Allen 6, Caleb Gooch 7. FG 16, FT 12-21, F 24. (3-pointers: Walker 3, Banks 3. Fouled out: Foster, Walker.)
On just the second day of the tournament the Dexter Bearcats found themselves eliminated from the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament with a 59-57 loss to Puxico.
Trying to rebound from their opening night loss to Twin Rivers, the Bearcats came out with a slow start against the Indians and trailed by 15 points entering the second half.
Brad Potts and D.J. Dowdy pitched in six and seven points respectively in the third as Dexter rebounded to cut their deficit to six entering the fourth.
The Bearcats came all the way back to tie things up only to see the Indians score the go ahead basket late and stay on top for good.
Chase Young had a game-high 20 points to lead Dexter while Dowdy and Young finished the night with 15 points each.
Jacob Plunkett, Josh Harp and Zach Tucker all scored 13 points for Puxico.
The Indians advanced to play Malden in the consolation semifinals on Saturday at 1 p.m.
PUXICO (59) -- Jacob Plunkett 13, Trent Stafford 6, Austin Tiechman 6, Josh Harp 13, Tim Hancock 8, Zach Tucker 13. FG 20, FT 16-33, F 17. (3-pointers: Plunkett 3. Fouled out: Tucker.)
DEXTER (57) -- Chase Young 20, Nick Noble 5, D.J. Dowdy 15, Austin Aldridge 2, Brad Potts 15. FG 23, FT 9-20, F 25. (3-pointers: Noble 1, Dowdy 1. Fouled out: Ryan Joyner, Jordan Miller.)
Despite taking a nine-point lead midway through the first half, the Richland Rebels couldn't stop the Madlen Green Wave from coming back for a 67-60 win.
Richland took advantage of a slow start by Malden and led 13-6 to end the first quarter.
Heating up as the second quarter rolled on, however, the Green Wave went on to score 26 in the frame and led by eight going into the break.
The Rebels trailed by 46-36 going into final frame, but were able to claw back to within six in the final few minutes of the game.
Richard Forshee led Richland with a 28 point effort with eight of the coming in the fourth. Marcus Grayson and Nick Daniels scored 13 and 10 points respectively.
Cortez Dobbins' 24 points were a team-high for Malden while Malik Perkins finished with 21.
MALDEN (67) -- Malik Perkins 21, Gunner Jones 4, Jeremy Jones 6, Edwin Hale 2, Cortez Dobbins 24, Romello McCoy 10. FG 26, FT 14-22, F 16. (3-pointers: Dobbins 1. Fouled out: none.)
RICHLAND (60) -- Skyler Harper 3, Jesse Barnes 6, Nick Daniels 10, Marcus Grayson 13, Richard Forshee 28. FG 24, FT 8-24, F 16. (3-pointers: Barnes 1, Daniels 2, Grayson 1. Fouled out: none.)
Despite a strong fourth quarter come back attempt, Hayti fell to Holcomb 56-44 in the tournament quarterfinals.
After hanging within two points of the Hornets heading into the second quarter of play Hayti was outscored 15-8 in the final eight minutes of the half to go down 30-21.
The deficit was extended to 17 entering the fourth where the Indians outscored Holcomb 15-10, but couldn't close any further.
Ryan Reeves led Holcomb with 22 points and Maurion Newbill had a team-high 15 points for Hayti.
HOLCOMB (56) -- Chase Davis 7, Tyler Lewis 1, Ryan Reeves 22, James Vance 4, Jamie Massey 13, Michael Glover 9. FG 19, FT 12-21, F 12. (3-pointers: Davis 1, Reeves 5. Fouled out: none.)
HAYTI (44) -- Maurion Newbill 15, Cedric Harris 2, Kenard Humes 7, Brandon Burden 2, Demetrius Luster 10, Frankie Burden Jr. 8. FG 18, FT 7-13, F 19. (3-pointers: Newbill 1. Fouled out: Newbill.)
Unable to overcome a poor shooting night at the free throw line, Twin Rivers fell to South Pemiscot 51-49 in the tournament semifinals.
The Royals were outscored 14-7 in the first quarter, but with a strong second frame were able to close back to within a point entering halftime.
South Pemiscot led 35-31 entering the fourth before holding on to win by two.
Anton Wilbourn had 15 points to lead South Pemiscot with Seth harris adding 14 to his team's cause.
Wes McCollum finished with a team-high 14 points for Twin Rivers with Michael Snider and Eric ray scoring 13 each.
South Pemiscot will play Kennett in the tournament semifinals Saturday at 7 p.m. while Twin Rivers will play Bloomfield in the fifth-place bracket semifinals on Saturday at 4 p.m.
SOUTH PEMISCOT (51) -- Jarvis Johnson 6, Contrell 2, Anthony Primer 3, Anton Wilbourn 15, Logan Carter 9, Jaleel Johnson 2, Seth Harris 14. FG 21, FT 8-18, F 17. (3-pointers: Carter 1. Fouled out: none.)
TWIN RIVERS (49) -- Blake Moore 5, Nathan Ezernack 2, Michael Snider 13, Wes McCollum 14, Eric Ray 13, Cade Lowe 2. FG 19, FT 5-14, F 19. (3-pointers: Moore 1, Snider 1, McCollum 4. Fouled out: Moore.)
The defending champion Kennett Indians moved one step closer to defending their title on Friday with a 82-57 win over Bloomfield in the quarterfinals.
Kevonte Mitchell had 21 points on the contest, helping the Indians open the game with a 25-15 run in the first quarter.
Caleb Baker and Brett Ruch had 15 points each to lead Bloomfield with Thomas Sanders scoring 11.
Behind Mitchell's 21, Antonio Primer had 19 for Kennett and Antavies Drake finished with 16.
KENNETT (82) -- Antavies Drake 16, Cameron Harper 2, Akeem Nelson 7, Collin Smith 8, Kevonte Mitchell 21, Harold Weedon 7, Antonio Primer 19, Divante Taylor 2. FG 34, FT 10-15, F 19. (3-pointers: Drake 1, Nelson 1, Weedon 1, Primer 1. Fouled out: none.)
BLOOMFIELD (57) -- Caleb Baker 15, Brett Ruch 15, Austin Williamson 7, Thomas Sanders 11, Austin Battles 2, Zac Goode 3, Travis Phillips 4. FG 16, FT 20-23, F 13. (3-pointers: Baker 3, Sanders 1, Goode 1. Fouled out: none.)
The East Prairie Eagles saw their time in the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament come to an end on Friday with a 90-41 loss to Doniphan.
Doniphan put 24 points on the board in the first quarter to quickly take a 14-point lead and by the half had pushed their advantage to 22.
Brian Patterson had a huge afternoon, scoring a game-high 39 point to nearly beat the Eagles single-handily.
Dakota Mooney and Seth Gettings contributed 16 and 14 points to the Dons effort respectively. Mooney had four of his team's eight 3-pointers on the night.
For East Prairie, Damion Tipler scored a team-high 12 points while Seth bays followed close behind with 11.
Doniphan advanced to play to play Saxony Lutheran on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
DONIPHAN (90) -- Dakota Mooney 16, Brett Hale 4, Seth Gettings 14, Austin Ivy 7, Brian Patterson 39, Ryan Daniel 4, Wyatt Eaton 6. FG 36, FT 10-15, F 15. (3-pointers: Mooney 4, Patterson 2, Wyatt Eaton 2. Fouled out: none.)
EAST PRAIRIE (41) -- Seth Johnson 5, Seth Bays 11, Brett Ellis 2, Mack Marcum 4, Damion Tipler 12. FG 20, FT 8-15, 14. (3-pointers: Johnson 2, Bays 1, Bryars 1. Fouled out: none.)
Led by an 18-point effort from Gabe Bohnert, Saxony Lutheran edged out Van Buren 59-58 to advance to the consolation semifinals.
Behind Bohnert's 18 points, Jack Lake had 13 points for Saxony Lutheran while Zach Beal added nine points to the cause.
Van Buren's effort was led by Tyler Griffin and Dustin Parson, who had 20 and 19 points respectively.
SAXONY LUTHERAN (59) -- Zach Beal 9, Logan Sprandel 7, Brandon Fritsche 4, Taylor Richmond 1, Gabe Bohnert 18, Hunter Coe 7, Jack Lake 13. FG 20, FT 16-34, F 25. (3-pointers: Beal 1, Coe 1, Lake 1. Fouled out: Beal, Sprandel.)
VAN BUREN (58) -- Austin Chilton 6, Shaun Burtcshi 8, Dusty Parson 19, Tyler Griffin 20, Alex Golaszewski 5. FG 19, FT 17-31, F 25. (3-pointers: Burtcshi 2, Parson 1. Fouled out: Levi Hogan, Chilton.)