BLOOMFIELD -- Charleston ended a five-year district championship drought on Friday night, edging Notre Dame 45-43 in overtime to win the 2A District 2 tournament.
"Finally beating (Notre Dame) is a big weight off our shoulders," said Charleston head coach Danny Farmer. "We're very excited to be in the playoffs. Now we want to see how far we can go."
Charleston (19-8) will now face Twin Rivers in Wednesday's 2A Sectional at Cape Central High School.
In Friday's game, senior Jemorrio Betts came through in the clutch for the Bluejays with three crucial plays in the extra period.
After tying the score at 43-43 with a putback, the 6-foot forward took the ball away from Notre Dame's Cory Beussink. The Bluejays bled the clock down to a minute, then Lezcano Dean put up a shot that was off its mark. Charleston's Ashton Farmer pulled down the rebound with 55.7 seconds left and was fouled in the process.
The freshman was able to hit 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to give Charleston a 44-43 lead.
On the ensuing possession, Dontay Clark stole the ball away from Notre Dame's Doug Schaeffer. He was fouled attempting the transition basket and was sent to the charity stripe. Clark missed the free throw, and Notre Dame's Scott Wittenborn got the rebound.
Charleston doubled him and Betts was able to force a jump ball in the final seconds. The possession arrow favored Charleston.
"That was senior leadership," said Farmer. "We put (Betts) in at overtime and he was the reason why we won it. He did some smart things at the end. That jump ball was a life-saver."
Dean was fouled and hit 1-of-2 free throws to put Charleston up 45-43. Notre Dame attempted a full-court desperation shot at the buzzer, but it fell short.
"You have to give Charleston credit," said Notre Dame head coach Darrin Scott. "They did a few things down the stretch that won the game for them."
Notre Dame (20-8) played without Travis Siebert, who suffered a concussion in Thursday's semifinal win over Kelly.
The Bulldogs came into the game hitting 62 percent of their free throws, but shot a paltry 2-for-10 in the first half Friday.
The Bulldogs were also ice-cold from the field in the opening quarter, hitting just 3-of-16 as Charleston jumped out to a 14-4 lead.
"We were playing defense pretty well and checking all their shots," said Farmer. "But I knew that (lead) wasn't going to hold up. I knew (Notre Dame) was going to make a run for it."
Notre Dame got on track in the second half, led by Wittenborn. With 5:36 left in the third quarter, the 6-foot-1 senior tied the game at 26-26 with a 3-point play. It was a see-saw matchup from there on out.
"I'm proud of our kids," said Scott. "We got down 14-4 and could've folded pretty easy. But we battled, came back and put ourselves in a position to win. That's all you can ask. It was a one-possession game."
The score was tied 41-41 with 1:20 left in the fourth quarter. Charleston ran the clock down to 28.8 seconds, but Notre Dame's pressure forced a five-second call on Dean.
Notre Dame took the clock down to 2.3 seconds and appeared to have the game locked up as Jordy Mixon was called for a foul on Wittenborn.
But Wittenborn missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw and time expired in a scramble for the loose ball.
"There were a few times there where it looked like it was all over," said Farmer. "They had 2.3 seconds and were on the free throw line. Luckily he missed it and we kept our heads up and kept playing. That would've been a tough way to lose it."
Charleston outscored Notre Dame 4-2 in overtime to pull out the thrilling win.
"We got down at the end and could've thrown in the towel," said Farmer. "We missed some free throws. We had the ball in the right people's hands. Clark and Dean have been making free throws for us all year. They missed, but we kept playing and kept trying. This is the kind of effort I've been looking for all year."
Dean led all Charleston scorers with 15 points, followed by Farmer with 10.
Wittenborn paced Notre Dame with 13. Wayne Essner and Doug Schaeffer each contributed 11.
Wednesday's sectional game will start at 8:15 p.m. Twin Rivers qualified by winning 2A District 1 Friday, upsetting Portageville.
"I thought Portageville would win that game, but we may match up a little bit better with Twin Rivers," said Farmer. "We feel if we can get past sectionals, we can go to state."
Notre Dame's girls team claimed its sixth consecutive 2A District 2 title on Friday night, clobbering Kelly in the championship game 69-29.
The Lady Hawks had no answer for Deana McCormick, who scored a game-high 27 points with 21 of them coming in the first half.
Kelly trailed just 20-10 at the end of the first quarter, only to see Ashley and Lisa Millham lead the Lady Bulldogs on a 17-3 run in the second period.
Notre Dame outscored Kelly 20-5 in the third quarter, then 12-11 in the fourth to advance to Wednesday's sectional showdown with Twin Rivers.
"Notre Dame is a very tough basketball team," said Kelly head coach Rod McQuerter. "They're strong, they're physical, they're well-disciplined and they're well-coached. This game shows us what we need to work on in the future. I'm very proud of my girls for the effort they gave."
Behind McCormick, Lisa Millham scored 14 points for Notre Dame while Ashley Millham contributed 10.
Bridgett Riley and Shannon Deshaney led the Lady Hawks in scoring with seven points each. Ashley Payne contributed six. Notre Dame improved to 25-2 while Kelly ended the year with a record of 23-4.
"We exceeded expectations this year," said McQuerter. "Nobody ever thought this team could win over 12 basketball games. The way these girls came out and competed against quality teams says a lot about their heart and their pride."
Kelly will lose Payne, Deshaney, Riley and Alana Burford to graduation.
"I can't say enough about my seniors," said McQuerter. "I'm going to miss them tremendously. They were true leaders for this team."