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New Madrid's size too much for Jackson boys
New Madrid County Central senior Kony Ealy was ranked among the nation's top high school football players this past season.
Ealy also isn't bad on the basketball court, which he demonstrated to host Jackson on Friday night.
Ealy dominated at both ends as the Eagles eased past the short-handed Indians 59-48.
"He's so athletic," Jackson coach Darrin Scott said. "And it's not just that he jumps so well. He's also strong and quick. He changes so much around the basket."
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Ealy, a defensive end who signed to play football for the University of Missouri, had 17 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks.
Ealy altered several other shots that he didn't get a hand on and made a few acrobatic saves of balls before they went out of bounds.
"He's pretty athletic," Jackson junior forward Zach McDowell said.
The Indians had nobody to match up with Ealy because their strongest inside player -- 6-6, 270-pound senior Henrie Williams -- is out after suffering an ankle injury during Tuesday's win over Central.
Scott said Williams' ankle is improving and Williams should be available for the upcoming district tournament, although he also likely will miss Jackson's final three regular-season games next week.
"We don't go super deep," Scott said. "When you take Henrie out, it hurts us."
Said McDowell: "We miss his presence in there. He's a big guy who gets rebounds and opens things up for everybody."
Jackson fell to 13-10 as it had a two-game winning streak snapped. NMCC improved to 12-8 as it bounced back from consecutive losses to area powers Poplar Bluff and Scott County Central.
"We needed this," NMCC coach Travis Day said. "I wouldn't say we were struggling, but we had two tough games against Poplar Bluff and Scott County where we came up short. It's good to get back on the winning side."
The Eagles also got a big performance from G'Darius Stevenson, a strong 6-1 junior who matched Ealy with 17 points.
"They're so strong and athletic," Scott said. "I thought they really played well."
Junior forward Bobby Clark led Jackson with 16 points. McDowell added 13.
The first quarter was extremely tight, with two lead changes and four ties. It ended with a 13-13 deadlock.
But the Eagles asserted themselves in the second period with an 18-6 advantage to go up 31-19 at the break.
Stevenson's layup to start the quarter put NMCC on top 15-13, and Jackson never caught up.
A 3-pointer by junior guard Keith Holmes with 50 seconds left before halftime made it 29-19, and Ealy's basket with 1 second remaining sent NMCC off with the 12-point cushion.
"The first half they had five offensive rebounds and scored 10 points off those," said Scott, emphasizing NMCC's inside strength.
Jackson made several mini-runs in the second half but never seriously challenged NMCC's lead.
The Indians got as close as 37-30 in the third quarter, which ended with NMCC ahead 45-35.
Four times the Indians pulled within eight points in the final period but could not get enough defensive stops.
"I was pleased in the second half," Scott said. "We cut into their lead and competed, but we couldn't get a stop [down the stretch]."
Ealy punctuated the victory when he threw down a two-handed dunk with just less than three minutes left to make it 56-44.
"He does a lot of things for us," Day said of Ealy.
NMCC (59) -- Dontre Jenkins 11, Lamonte Nelson 9, Keith Holmes 3, G'Darius Stevenson 17, Kony Ealy 17, William Bledsoe 2. FG 23, FT 7-13, F 13. (3-pointers: Jenkins 1, Nelson 2, Holmes 1. Fouled out: none)
JACKSON (48) -- Caleb Newcomer 5, Taylor Williams 6, Kyle Keith 4, Zach McDowell 13, Bobby Clark 16, John Meyer 4. FG 18, FT 9-12, F 14. (3-pointers: Newcomer 1, Williams 2. Fouled out: none)