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Charleston tops NMCC in SIT

Tuesday, December 9, 2003

(Photo)
New Madrid County Central's Vaughn Shephers (40) is fouled by Charleston's Ashton Farmer.
SIKESTON - The 32nd Annual Sikeston Invitational Tournament got underway on Monday at the Sikeston Field House with two games.

With no seeds for this year's tournament, teams were split up into two pools.

Monday's games saw Charleston defeat New Madrid County Central 47-39 and Blytheville defeat defending tournament champion Poplar Bluff 53-52.

Today's slate will see Cape Central take on Blytheville at 6 p.m. while Sikeston will play NMCC at 7:30.

NMCC came out in the first quarter hyped and ready to upset the Bluejays.

But Charleston out-scored NMCC 30-13 in the middle quarters to pull out the win.

NMCC led by as much as 13-7 in the first quarter before settling for a 14-9 lead at quarter's end.

Charleston (3-0) took its first lead since early in the game when Marcus Biles scored and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but freshman Jamarcus Williams had the offensive putback to extend the lead to 23-20.

Charleston ended up leading 24-20 at halftime.

The Eagles (2-4) never could recover.

"I was really pleased with our effort and that's another thing we can build on," said NMCC head coach Scott Kruse. "Every one that got on that court tonight played hard and played like they wanted to win. I was pleased with what I saw, even though we didn't come out ahead on the scoreboard. That may be how it is sometimes with us."

Charleston continued to pour it on in the third quarter as they opened up a 14-point lead at one juncture.

The Bluejays led 39-27 at the end of the third.

"We had some quick possessions in the third quarter and let them get some momentum," said Kruse. "They had some easier looks than they probably had in the first half and they made some plays."

Junior Ashton Farmer scored nine of his 16 points in the quarter. Marcus Biles led all scorers with 17 points.

"He's a pretty good player," said Kruse of Farmer. "He got them going a little bit and he got them excited. And Biles. Those two right there are a handful. Two completely different players and both are probably equally tough to stop."

The Bluejays came out firing from 3-point range in the first half but ended up not hitting a single one in the game.

"They just didn't go down and that's why we stress defense," said Charleston head coach Danny Farmer. "You're not going to shoot well all the time. But your defense can be there all the time, every night."

NMCC was able to cut the Charleston lead to 41-35 with 4:20 left in the game, but Biles answered with a conventional 3-point play to stop the momentum.

Seconds later, a steal by Trentez Lane resulted in a breakaway reverse dunk by Farmer to push the lead back to 46-35.

NMCC scored a couple more buckets but couldn't get closer than seven.

"We played well enough to win the game, but we didn't play very well tonight," said Farmer. "We just couldn't get anything to fall from the outside tonight."

NMCC didn't have a scorer reach double figures. Malcom Long led the Eagles with seven points.

The Mules, who were playing their second game in a row without 6-foot-9 all-stater Tyler Hansbrough, couldn't hold off a late rally by the Blytheville Chickasaws.

Poplar Bluff led for most of the game, but Blytheville steadily chipped away and was able to hold on for the win.

The Mules, which lost their opener against Paducah Tilghman last week, falls to 0-2 on the season.

With the score tied at 52-52, Poplar Bluff had a chance to win the game, but sophomore Ben Hansbrough forced a tough shot from 17-feet and missed with seven seconds left. After Blytheville's Roosevelt Jackson secured the rebound, the Mules' Glen Yandell committed an ill-advised foul with 4.5 seconds remaining to send Jackson to the free throw line for a one-and-one.

"We just made a bad decision late and that's stuff that happens with young teams," said Poplar Bluff head coach John David Pattillo. "The shot was bad and then the foul was even worse. But there's a lot more plays in that game where we could've extended our lead a little more."

Jackson sank the first free throw, but he missed the second. Blytheville's Vontrell Whaley was able to get the rebound and dribble out the final seconds on the clock.

Blytheville head coach David Hixson said the second missed free throw wasn't intentional, but it worked out for the best for his team.

"We were lucky that the second shot was off so bad," said Hixson. "It hit the rim so fast and it came off so quick that we were able to get the rebound. I wish I could say it was intentional, but it was one of those kind of misses that I thought he was going to bank it off the glass."

Even without its star center, Poplar Bluff proved to be a dangerous team.

The Mules led 16-14 after one quarter and 33-27 at the half. They still led 42-40 heading into the fourth quarter.

Blytheville tied the game for the first time since early in the first on a conventional 3-point play by David Williams.

Williams, who led all scorers with 29 points, then buried a 3-pointer on the next trip to give the Chickasaws the lead.

"David's kind of an unsung hero," said Hixson. "A lot of people don't know about him. He's been real steady for us. He's got a little bit of everything and he's kind of a well kept secret because everybody loads up on John (Fowler)."

Later in the quarter, Blytheville took a 52-51 lead on Jackson's 15-foot jumper with 1:42 left.

Hansbrough tied it by making 1-of-2 free throws with 1:11 remaining.

Poplar Bluff was led by Devon Brown's 18 points. Yandell finished with 12 points.

"We knew they would be a tussle, even without the Hansbrough kid," said Hixson. "They're fundamentally sound and they can all shoot it. Even without the big kid, their post people are still good."

After Williams' 29, Fowler battled early foul problems and finished with 10 points.

"They can jump up and shoot it at any time," said Pattillo. "We were trying to eliminate one of their two scorers. I thought we did a good job on Fowler. We just let Williams go a little too much."

Poplar Bluff will play Cape Central on Thursday at 6 p.m.

Blytheville, which was playing its first game since Nov. 25 when they beat Sikeston at the Field House, improves to 4-0.

"I was concerned coming in because we hadn't played in a week and I was afraid that we'd be a little bit flat," said Hixson. "But our guys battled and really made the plays when they had to."