(photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON - The 31st Annual Sikeston Invitational Tournament resumed on Thursday at the Field House.
In a back and forth game, third-seeded Blytheville defeated No. 2 Charleston in overtime 62-60 to advance to the finals tonight against top-seeded Poplar Bluff at 8:30 p.m.
Charleston will take on No. 4-seeded Sikeston in the third place game at 7 p.m.
In a consolation semifinal, sixth-seeded Cape Central rallied to beat No. 7 Doniphan 84-80.
Cape Central will play No. 5 NMCC tonight at 5:30.
Blytheville 62, Charleston 60
The Chickasaws rallied from five points down with less than a minute left in overtime to pull out the win.
Trailing 60-55, Blytheville's Daniel Smith buried a 3-pointer from the left corner to cut the lead to two.
After getting the ball back, Blytheville's David Williams knocked down a long shot to tie the game at 60-60 with 15 seconds left.
However, both teams thought Williams' shot was a 3-pointer. After the Chickasaws managed to steal the ball with time winding down, Charleston's Trentez Lane, thinking his team was trailing by one, fouled Vontrell Whaley with 4.9 seconds left, sending him to the line for a one-and-one free throw.
Whaley made both shots to lead 62-60.
The Bluejays' game-winning 3-point shot at the buzzer was well short.
"(Lane) thought it was a 3-pointer -- I did too," said Farmer of Williams' shot. "It looked like one. So he fouled. But that didn't have anything to do with it. We had a lot of easy opportunities but we choked, or panicked or whatever there at the end. We gave them a Christmas gift. We had control of the game but we panicked right there at the end and gave them a Christmas gift."
Even Blytheville head coach David Hixson thought that Williams' shot was a 3-pointer.
"I thought it was a 3 -- it looked like he was out of bounds when he shot it," said Hixson. "Obviously they thought it too because they fouled us. That was kind of a twist of fate for us."
The Chickasaws nearly blew the game themselves.
They led by as much as 36-24 in the second half, and they led 50-47 with less than a minute remaining when Eddie Thomas had a wide open breakaway layup but missed.
It opened the door for the Bluejays as Ashton Farmer connected on 1-of-2 free throws and Joshua Strayhorn scored with 24 seconds left to tie the score at 50-50.
Blytheville (4-2) tried to hold for a final shot but Strayhorn stole the ball and appeared to have an open lane to the basket with just a few seconds left.
But Chickasaw sophomore John Fowler came out of nowhere to block the layup. Lane tried for the putback but it too was off the mark as time expired.
"We had plenty of time to make it but I guess if you're out there you don't know how much time is on the clock and you rush yourself," said Farmer. "I thought it was over. I thought Strayhorn would make the layup, then after Trent got there I thought he would make it also. But we didn't realize how much time we had."
The Bluejays (3-2) trailed from the start as the Chickasaws opened up an 8-2 lead.
Blytheville led 16-15 after one quarter and 28-20 at the half. The Chicks led 36-24 with 2:50 left in the third quarter, but Charleston ended the period on a 14-4 run to cut the lead to 40-38.
Blytheville was led by Smith with 24 points. Williams had 11 and Whaley added 10.
Charleston was led by Marcus Biles and Ashton Farmer with 15 points each. Kewain Gant added 12 points, seven rebounds and six blocked shots.
"Both teams had opportunities to win the ballgame," said Hixson. "We hit some big shots when we had to have them. They were big-time critical shots. It was kind of a heavyweight fight with two teams really going after each other, especially in the second half. We just ended up getting the last punch in."
This is Blytheville's first championship game appearance since 1998 when the Chickasaws defeated Sikeston for the title.
"It feels good to get back to the finals," said Hixson. "You've got to play every night in this tournament. If you don't play then you're going to get beat."
The Tigers overcame a 45-37 halftime deficit to pull out the win to advance to the consolation championship.
Cape Central (3-2) got 32 points out of 6-foot-8 sophomore transfer Scott Chestnutt.
The Dons didn't have anybody that could match up with the bigger Chestnutt as he towered over every other player on the court.
Doniphan (0-2) countered with the long range shooting of Danny Kellas, who finished with 32 points, including four 3-pointers.
Cape led 23-21 after one quarter but fell behind at the half. The Tigers led 61-59 heading into the final quarter.
Doniphan led by as much as five in the fourth quarter but couldn't hold on.
Doniphan's Shayne Talburt added 18 points and Brett Reed followed up with 13.
Cape also got double figure scoring out of Ryan Delph (19 points) and Jake Knepp (12 points).