The opponent, a very talented Charleston program billed as one of the best Missouri had to offer, was better than advertised.
During his final five years of coaching in Missouri, Choctaw head coach Derek McCord never beat Charleston, losing two contests in overtime. Now in Tennessee, with one of the top players in the entire nation in Tennessee signee Robert 'R3' Hubbs and a host of talented teammates, McCord looked to snap the skid.
Behind 29 points and 10 rebounds from Hubbs, not to mention four other Choctaws that finished in double figures, Dyer County pulled away late to secure a 93-76 win to improve to 17-1 overall on the season.
"They (Charleston) are probably the best team we've faced this season, but I thought we were just really balanced across the board and got some great contributions from our guys and that made the difference," said McCord.
DC's Markeston 'Bubba' Bostic had perhaps his finest game of the season to date, finishing the contest with 23 points that included a 7-of-8 performance from the field as well as a 9-of-11 night at the free-throw line.
Joining Hubbs and Bostic in double figures was Malik Pugh with 16 and five assists, Jamaal Ahmad had 11 points and six rebounds, and LaMarcus Mosley had 12 points to go with six boards as well.
Charleston's Ryan Parham led the Bluejays with 18 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Michael Hull followed with 15 points and Darrion Carter finished with 16.
As a team, the Choctaws shot the ball extremely well by connecting on 36-of-61 attempts from the field for 59 percent, while the Bluejays were nearly equally effective from the field after making 33-of-66 for 50 percent.
Dyer County edged the Bluejays on the glass 32-29, and forced 13 turnovers while only committing seven.
A back-and-forth opening quarter saw both squads take turns with the lead before the Choctaws ultimately ended the period on a jumper from Hubbs to hold a 20-18 advantage at the end of the quarter.
Dyer County surged ahead by as many as seven on two separate occasions in the second period, only to see the Bluejays answer the bell both times. DC led 34-27 with five minutes left in the half before Charleston (16-2) raced out on a 9-2 run over the next three minutes to eventually knot the game at 36-36 on a 3-pointer from Parham.
Hull sank two at the charity stripe to lift the Bluejays briefly in front moments later before the two talented squads battled throughout the final minutes with DC heading to the half on top by one, 44-43.
Though the third quarter played out like the first two, the two squads headed to the final period deadlocked at 61-61.
In the final eight minutes, DC found another gear and the Bluejays simply had no answer. Led by Hubbs with 11 points and Bostic with nine, the Choctaws outscored Charleston 32-15 in the period. The fast and furious ones proved to be too much for the Bluejays thanks to a solid defensive effort in those eight minutes.
"This was a very exciting ballgame between two teams that like to play at a fast pace," added McCord. "They're a lot like us but I thought our defense was really good in the fourth quarter. We contested shots and made it tough to get a good look at that basket and we rebounded the ball really well."
The Choctaws will have a short rest before facing another No.1 team tonight at 8:30 in Harrisburg, Ill. in the final game of the day. After a four-game lineup again today in Newbern, the Hoop Fest will change locations and resume on Saturday at White Station in Memphis.
In other games on Thursday, Christian Brothers defeated Whitehaven 57-52, and Sunrise Christian (Kansas) held off a late rally from Nick King and Memphis East to win 66-64. East standout Mick King led all scorers in the contest with 27.
The lineup for today is as follows:
4 p.m. - Germantown vs. Amanda Elzy (Mississippi)
5:30 p.m. - Arlington Country Day vs. Craigmont
7 p.m. - Findlay Prep vs. Ft. Walton Beach
8:30 p.m. - Dyer County vs. Harrisburg, Ill.