(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
NEW MADRID -- Fans looking to see New Madrid County Central's Benesha Childress break the school's all-time scoring record were likely disappointed to see the senior in street clothes for Thursday night's game against Sikeston.
Instead, the crowd watched the fourth quarter heroics of senior Karen McGloson as their Lady Eagles held off a late comeback attempt by the Lady Bulldogs for a 53-48 win.
"I told them after the game we fought through a lot of adversity tonight," NMCC head coach David Crockett said. "We're missing Benesha and Rashaunda (Summers) is out as well so we're short-handed. But they kept battling and didn't quit no matter what happened.
"We were down two points going into the fourth and I told them you just have to keep battling, this game's not over, keep your head up and that's what we did."
The Lady Eagles led by 13 points early in the third quarter before a revived Sikeston offense scored four-straight baskets to fight to within five points three minutes into the frame.
A bucket by Mikala Nichols in the final minute of the third completed the comeback and an ensuing turnover by NMCC gave the Lady Bulldogs their first lead of the night, at 34-32, to enter the fourth.
NMCC trailed by two with 5:23 to play when McGloson started a dominate run with a quick put-back to tie the game. Whitney Williams followed suit with a basket at the four minute mark, retaking the lead for the Lady Eagles. Before long, NMCC was on a 13-4 run.
McGloson scored nine points during the rally and it was on a bucket in the paint that she put her team up 47-42 with 2:27 left in regulation.
Sikeston called a timeout to regroup, but another McGloson basket soon after put NMCC out on top by seven. It wasn't until only 54 seconds remaining that Sikeston once again found the basket, on a short jumper from Nichols, cutting their deficit to four.
McGloson responded with a pair of free throws that left her with 13 of the last 15 NMCC points before another pair of free throws from Dallas Campbell sealed the win.
"She's a great player," Sikeston head coach Matt Schonhoff said of McGloson. "We knew if we were going to stay in this game and to win it we had to control her.
"When we controlled we were able to get back in the game and get a lead, but when she took over we had problems."
Though they came away with a loss, Sikeston's second half effort was encouraging after the Lady Bulldogs spent the first two quarters playing from behind.
NMCC scored eight-straight points to end the first quarter with a 10-4 advantage. Sikeston closed the gap to four points in the final minute of the half before a pair of Lady Eagle buckets in the quarter's final 18 seconds left them down 22-15.
NMCC went on a 6-0 run to start the third frame before Yolanda Johnson broke Sikeston's drought. Johnson's basket led to eight-straight Lady Bulldog points and an eventual 19-4 run to end the third.
"The things we did to get back in the game has been what's led to our success since Christmas," Schonhoff said. "When we got the lead we had the momentum then we just started rushing everything and doing the things we weren't doing.
"We might have got tired there at the end. Our passes got a little bit lazy and we weren't reading and seeing. Can't fault the effort of our girls."
Leading Sikeston's effort, Nichols finished with 19 points on the night with all but four coming in the second and third quarters. Hayli Chapman was second on the team with 13 points.
With 13 points in the fourth quarter alone and 19 total in the second half, McGloson finished with a game-high 25 points to lead the Lady Eagles. Whitney Williams and Aqwanness Johnson had eight points each.
"Just no quit tonight," Crockett said. "That's a big step forward for us. We struggled before this week and we're starting to get back on the right track. We're starting to play good team basketball. We're getting on the boards a little better, taking care of the ball and our press looked a little better. Overall a lot better performance."
NMCC improves to 11-6 on the year while Sikeston falls to 4-10. Both teams will compete on Saturday in the Coaches vs. Cancer Shootout at Charleston High School.
Sikeston opens up the day against Scott County Central at 10:30 a.m. and the Lady Eagles will play Meadow Heights at 6 p.m.
Childress will enter NMCC's contest just 15 points shy of the Lady Eagles' all-time leading scorer mark.
SIKESTON (48) -- Hayli Chapman 13, Mikala Nichols 18, Erica Peet 7, Ariana Beard 4, Trenice Greer 2, Yolanda Johnson 4. FG 21, FT 6-12, F 14. (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: Beard.)
NMCC (53) -- Shanterra Waters 4, Dallas Campbell 2, Amirah Ruff 6, Whitney Williams 8, Aqwanness Johnson 8, Karen McGloson 25. FG 24, FT 5-9, F 13. (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: none.)