SIKESTON - The finals of the 30th Annual Sikeston Invitational Tournament are set for tonight at the Sikeston Field House.
Second-seeded Charleston won its first game of the season, eliminating No. 6 Doniphan 75-64 in the consolation semifinals, and No. 3 Poplar Bluff outlasted Kennett 74-69 in overtime.
Charleston will play No. 4 Sikeston tonight at 5:30 for the consolation championship, Kennett and Blytheville will meet for third place at 7:00 and Poplar Bluff will try to dethrone the two-time defending Sikeston tournament champions New Madrid County Central at 8:30.
Charleston (1-2) led throughout its game with Doniphan, but never could put the Dons away.
The Bluejays built a 33-23 first half lead, but the Dons scored four points in the final 13 seconds of the first half to trim the lead to 33-27.
"They're feisty, but we were keeping them in the game," said Charleston head coach Danny Farmer. "We do some things that aren't very smart. We're going to have to play smarter. But we just wanted to get the win so the kids could start feeling better and get more confidence. We played a lot harder tonight, but we haven't put together four quarters yet. A lot of that has to do with conditioning."
The Dons cut the lead to 55-50 after three quarters, and they were able to keep it that close with about four minutes left, but the Bluejays were able to put the game away with a late run.
"I thought our kids played hard, but after the beating we took the other night we didn't have any confidence," said Doniphan head coach Shane Benson. "I think when we get things going we're going to be alright. For us to be successful we feel like we need to go up and down and we never could get Charleston to play to our pace. We still didn't rebound -- we've got to find some kind of way to improve that."
The Bluejays also played with standout Lezcano Dean, who will miss two weeks with a bruised elbow.
But in his absence, senior Jordy Mixon put together his best performance of the year, scoring a game-high 29 points.
The Bluejays also got offensive production out of Jemorrio Betts with 14, Kewain Gant with 12 and Dontay Clark with 10.
Doniphan was led by Danny Kellas with 22 points and Shayne Talburt with 19.
The Bluejays will now take on the Sikeston Bulldogs, which is a matchup that will probably bring out the biggest crowd of the night at the Field House.
"It's a big matchup for the fans," said Farmer. "I think it'll be a good game. The two teams are playing similar, both have had some ups and downs. I just hope we go out and play hard."
The Mules survived a scare from Kennett, but solid free throw shooting and some tremendous defense late in the game were able to preserve the win.
Kennett took a 62-59 lead with 3:08 left when Daniel Christian nailed a 3-pointer. But the Mules' Brent Little answered just seconds later with a trey to tie the score. The Mules were able to take a 65-62 lead when Tony Webb hit 1-of-2 free throws with 29 seconds left. After a wild series in the final seconds, which saw several offensive rebounds by the Indians, Dustin Pritchett grabbed a board and found Tyree Goolsby wide open. Goolsby delivered, draining the 3-pointer as time expired to send the game into overtime.
The Mules built a 72-69 lead late in OT, but Pritchett's attempt to tie the game was an airball with just seconds left.
The Mules (5-0) were able to convert 14 free throws in the fourth quarter and regulation to put the Indians away. Kennett had three players foul out in the contest.
"What really took its toll on us was Poplar Bluff's ability to play nine or 10 guys -- that got us in the end," said Kennett head coach Tim Turlington. "If they rotate as many as we rotate then it's a different game. But they've got the guys to do it. They've got nine guys that are no different. Any one of them can start and they wouldn't miss a beat."
Poplar Bluff got a big game out of junior Tony Webb, who posted a game-high 23 points.
"Tony's very capable of doing that," said Poplar Bluff head coach John David Pattillo. "He's got to want to take on that leadership role late in the game like he did, and continue to do that."
But it was junior Cheron Pearson that stepped it up late, scoring 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter and overtime periods.
Meanwhile, Kennett standout Pritchett was held in check, scoring 17 points, but only five in the fourth quarter and overtime.
"They did a good job of defending him," said Turlington. "If he's covered up, then we've got to have somebody else step up. Foul trouble got to us tonight. We're going to have to play nine or 10 guys (against Blytheville). That's kind of the brutality of this tournament."
Kennett (3-1) was led in scoring by Goolsby and Julius Taylor with 18 points each.
Poplar Bluff, for the second year in a row, will take on the NMCC Eagles for the championship. The Mules have lost three out of four to the Eagles the last two years.
"We're going to have to approach it the same way (as Kennett), but we're going to have to handle the basketball better than we did tonight," said Pattillo. "The biggest reason it's important is because it's an early test of teams that we want to be considered with. I'd like to be considered the caliber New Madrid is. If we're at that caliber, then maybe we can do a little bit better than we've done in the postseason. And that's where we want to be."