East Prairie outlasts Portageville in regular-season finale

East Prairie's Evan Kenedy (33) grabs a rebound during a 66-59 win over Portageville at EPHS on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024.
Dennis Marshall ~ Standard-Democrat

EAST PRAIRIE, Mo. — In a clash that lived up to its billing, East Prairie emerged victorious against Portageville in both teams' regular-season finale on Thursday, Feb. 15, ultimately clinching a hard-fought 66-59 win.

The Eagles (20-6) built a sizable lead but found themselves in a tense, one-possession battle as the Bulldogs (16-9) rallied in the final minutes.

“I was happy to see us close out the game,” said East Prairie coach Gary Scott. “Portageville didn’t quit and they kept coming. But we were able to make enough plays and close it out.

East Prairie's Connor Marcum (5) drives during a 66-59 win over Portageville at EPHS on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024.
Dennis Marshall ~ Standard-Democrat

East Prairie set the tone from the opening tip-off, surging ahead with an electrifying 12-0 run.

Noah Johnson’s interior presence, with key offensive rebounds and putbacks, was pivotal in building the early lead. Kamron Farmer and Connor Marcum also contributed to the opening burst, fueling the Eagles' energy.

“[Portageville] started in a triangular and two defense,” Scott said. “We were able to exploit that and get some easy shots at the rim.”

East Prairie's Braylan Cade (13) looks for an opening during a 66-59 win over Portageville at EPHS on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024.
Dennis Marshall ~ Standard-Democrat

Portageville finally broke the scoreless drought on a 3-pointer from Brandon West with two minutes and 56 seconds left in the opening frame, but East Prairie answered back with a triple from Ty Wallace.

Aaron Dunlap knocked down shot an outside shot to cut the lead back to single digits before the teams traded a few baskets to end the first quarter.

The Eagles extended the advantage to 28-14 midway through the second quarter on a 3-point shot by Farmer, but the Bulldogs battled back, ignited by Jamarion Smith’s steals and aggressive transition finishes.

Portageville's Aaron Dunlap (4) drives during a 66-59 loss at East Prairie on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024.
Dennis Marshall ~ Standard-Democrat

Xayvion Bogan kept Portageville within striking distance, capping the half with a crafty finish and buzzer-beating 3-pointer to make it 34-27.

Portageville kept the momentum rolling in the third quarter, closing the gap to a single possession thanks to Smith’s relentless attacking play.

Yet, East Prairie countered with Marcum draining back-to-back 3-pointers, keeping Portageville at arm's length 40-32.

Portageville's Jamarion Smith (24) goes up for a shot during a 66-59 loss at East Prairie on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024.
Dennis Marshall ~ Standard-Democrat

The game turned into a seesaw battle in the final quarter. Smith pulled the Bulldogs within a point and later tied the game at 46-46 with a clutch triple.

In a tense exchange of points, Wallace responded with another pivotal 3-pointer for East Prairie, but West kept Portageville in the fight with a timely shot from outside the arc.

Smith narrowed the lead to 60-58 with 1:21 left, and Connor Jeffries drew a crucial charge, setting up a potential game-tying or winning possession with 36.6 seconds left.

East Prairie's Noah Johnson (11) drives during a 66-59 win over Portageville at EPHS on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024.
Dennis Marshall ~ Standard-Democrat

However, a costly turnover crushed those aspirations.

Johnson went to the line with a chance to extend East Prairie's lead, making one out of two free throws to push the score to 62-59.

In a game-changing play, Farmer's tenacious rebounding effort kept the ball alive for the Eagles, leading to Johnson getting fouled once more. He calmly sank both free throws with 15.9 seconds remaining, clinching the 64-59 victory for East Prairie.

“That was the play of the game,” Scott said. “That pretty much sealed it. We were patient and didn’t turn it over. We didn’t force anything and made Portageville have to foul. Being able to hit those free throws late in the game sealed it for us.”

Marcum finished with a team-high 20 points on an efficient 8-of-10 shooting. He also contributed three steals, an assist, and a rebound.

Johnson followed closely with 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting, adding nine rebounds, two blocks, a steal, and an assist, while Wallace chipped in 17 points, four rebounds, two steals, and an assist.

The victory marked a special milestone for the Eagles, securing their 20th win of the season. This historic achievement represents the first time the program has recorded consecutive 20-win seasons.

Farmer and Kennedy, the team’s seniors, played their final home game, leaving behind a strong legacy.

”[Farmer and Kenedy] played awesome,” Scott said. “Winning 20 games for the second consecutive season is something special. That’s an impressive legacy. They’re a special group. They are winners, great kids and I love them to death. I’m proud of their accomplishments.”

Smith led Portageville with a game-high 24 points. He was followed by Jeffries (11) and Bogan (10).

East Prairie also defeated Malden 73-53 on Tuesday, avenging a loss in the championship game of the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament from earlier this season.

“We just wanted it more,” Scott said. “We had something to prove and our guys did a great job.”

Both teams with compete in the MSHSAA Class 3, District 1 Tournament at Portageville.

East Prairie received the No. 3 seed and will face sixth-seeded Twin Rivers (13-12), while fourth-seeded Portageville takes on fifth-seeded Caruthersville (13-11) on Tuesday, Feb. 20.


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Portageville (59) — Jamarion Smith 24, Connor Jeffries 11, Xayvion Bogan 10, Brandon West 6, Mason Adams 4, Aaron Dunlap 3, Tim Hamilton 1. FG: 21. FT: 11-21. F: 12. (3-pointers: Bogan 2, West 2, Dunlap 1, Smith 1. Fouled out: None.)

East Prairie (66) — Connor Marcum 20, Noah Johnson 18, Kamron Farmer 11, Ty Wallace 6, Tavion Ware 4, Evan Kenedy 4. FG: 26. FT: 8-12. F: 18. (3-pointers: Wallace 3, Marcum 2, Kamron Farmer 1. Fouled out: None.)


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East Prairie (73) — Connor Marcum 20, Noah Johnson 18, Ty Wallace 17, Kamron Farmer 8, Braylan Cade 4, Tripp Shoemaker 3, Tavion Ware 2, Evan Kenedy 1. FG: 29. FT: 11-18. F: 9. (3-pointers: Wallace 3, Marcum 1. Fouled out: None.)

Malden (53) — Marcus Burton 13, Payton Woodard 11, Quamareous Farmer 11, Zion Bell 6, Tylyne Mathies 4, Laterrence Robinson 2, Trey Miller 2. FG: 23. FT: 5-12. F: 24. (3-pointers: Woodard 1, Farmer 1. Fouled out: None.)

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