(Photo by Lance Hanlin, Staff)
The Bluejays didn't play their best offensive game of the season, but made up for it on the other end, limiting the Hawks to just 13 field goals.
"We're pretty good offensively most of the time, and we're very good defensively," said Charleston head coach Danny Farmer. "If our offense lets us down, we just have to step it up on defense."
The Bluejays did exactly that, earning their second consecutive district title.
"I'm hoping (these kids) are the pioneers, getting ready to start something great," said Farmer. "We've been through a lot of battles, and we've come out on top in the majority of them. We're very excited about being able to repeat."
Charleston's pressure overwhelmed Kelly early as the Bluejays jumped out to a commanding 16-2 lead.
The Hawks were able to adjust in the second quarter, shaving the lead down to five.
"We dug a little hole there early, but we didn't let down," said Kelly head coach Nick Lanpher. "We finally adjusted to where we could get some shots and we hit the ones we needed to hit."
Things then turned from bad to worse for the Bluejays when Deshaundray Hamilton was whistled for a technical foul. Charleston was able to keep its composure though, increasing its lead to 28-19 at halftime.
"We've been through it so many times before, I think we know how to handle tough situations," said Farmer. "That's my biggest concern -- being able to overcome those type of obstacles. I think we have prepared ourselves to do it."
Charleston's athleticism took its toll in the second half at the Bluejays outscored Kelly 19-7 in the third quarter and 13-8 in the fourth.
With 2:24 left in regulation, Charleston cleared its bench as the Bluejay fans celebrated the 26-point victory.
"They wore us down after 2 1/2 quarters," said Lanpher. "The same thing happened at Cape against them. We were almost tied at halftime, then midway through the third quarter they got away from us. We just got tired and couldn't keep up the intensity."
Marcus Biles led Charleston in scoring with 19 points. He was followed by Trentez Lane with 18 and Ashton Farmer with 13. Major Burger paced Kelly with 10 points in the loss.
"Kelly came in ready to play, I knew they would," said Farmer. "This was the third time we've played them, so I expected a tougher game this time around."
Charleston (25-3) will play the winner of tonight's Twin Rivers-Doniphan game in the state sectionals on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. The location has been moved to the Black River Coliseum in Poplar Bluff.
Kelly finishes its season with a record of 12-15.
"We had a successful year," said Lanpher. "We came on strong and played Bell City, Oran, St. Vincent and Scott City well. The boys got better as the year went along, like they're supposed to. We should have two more good years coming up. We've got a good jayvee and a good ninth grade team coming also. We'll be all right."