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Charleston lights up Classic

Monday, November 27, 2006

Charleseton's Justin Clark (40) drives the baseline.
NEW MADRID -- Two of Missouri high school's most storied basketball programs, the Charleston Bluejays and the Vashon Wolverines, finished as the only unbeaten teams in the 12th annual Riverbend Classic.

In Saturday's final round of the "Rumble by the River," Charleston ran away from the Pine Bluff (Ark.) Zebras, 95-76, and Vashon edged the Memphis (Tenn.) Central Warriors, 64-61. Earlier in the day, the Bell City Cubs outlasted the Byhalia (Miss.) Indians, 67-62, and the West Memphis (Ark.) Zebras held off the New Madrid County Central Eagles, 63-57.

Bluejays roll

Charleston (2-0), minus injured leading scorer and rebounder Jamarcus Williams, backed up a 70-53 win over West Memphis on Friday with an impressive victory over a stubborn Pine Bluff team.

"I thought it was a great performance both games," said Charleston coach Danny Farmer. "We didn't know what to expect without Jamarcus, but we played well against two big athletic teams that can apply pressure."

Pine Bluff (1-1) opened the game with a 10-0 run, nailing its first three shots from beyond the arc, to run out to a 28-18 first-quarter lead.

The Bluejays began to chip away at the lead in the second period, taking their first lead at 34-33 at the 3:15 mark. Charleston led 44-40 at the half.

With their patented in-your-face defense forcing turnovers and misses and the offense blistering the nets, the Jays turned up the heat in the second half, outscoring the Zebras 51-36.

"The defensive effort both nights was great," said Farmer. "Offensively, we went eight deep and got contributions from everybody."

Leading the charge was senior forward Justin Clark who scored a game-high 36 points, including four treys. Sophomore guard Antonio Riggens added 22 with three 3-pointers and senior point guard Shawn Sherrell scored 16 and provided flawless floor leadership. Junior Brian Parham had nine points.

Said Farmer, "Justin had a tremendous game and Antonio played well on both ends of the court. Shawn handles the ball the whole game for us. He's in excellent condition to do that."

Charleston, Missouri's Class 3 runner-up last season, shot a sizzling 63 percent (29-46) on its 2-point attempts, 42 percent (8-19) from 3-point range and 83 percent (15-18) from the charity stripe.

Pine Bluff, a perennial state playoff competitor, placed four in double figures, led by its Division I prospect Stedmon Harper with 24. Lecoya Strain added 19, Marcus Murry had 17 and Louis Rowland chipped in with 10.

Despite facing a decided height disadvantage, the host NMCC Eagles took it to taller West Memphis early.

The Zebras, with players 6-foot-8, 6-5, 6-4 and several at 6-3, often towered over the shorter Eagles who had no one taller than 6-1.

The Eagles (0-2) simply outhustled and outworked the Zebras (1-1) as they led throughout most of the first half, never trailing by more than a single point. Trailing 28-27 late in the second quarter, Eagle guard Leslie Williams knocked down a 3-point buzzer beater for a 30-28 halftime lead.

Coming off an 80-51 loss to Pine Bluff on Friday, new coach Travis Day was pleased with the intensity and effort of the Eagles in Saturday's contest.

"I'm proud that we came back with more effort," said Day, following his second game at the helm. "Playing hard--that's all I can ask for now."

NMCC hung close throughout the second half, trailing 46-43 as the third quarter expired. They battled to a tie at 50 midway of the fourth period, before the Zebras, 2004 state champions, went on a decisive 10-0 run to take control.

Williams' 3-pointer stopped the bleeding at 60-53 with time ticking down. Forced to send the Zebras to the line, the Eagles could get no closer than the final score of 63-57.

"We just have to bring our lunch pails every night and try to outwork you," said Day, "but we're heading in the right direction."

Junior forward Lance Price paced the Eagle scoring with 18 points, followed by Williams' 13. Marquese Gates, a 5-10 forward, pulled down 12 rebounds and Price grabbed eight.

West Memphis' Tresdan Winkfield had a game-high 21 points and 6-8 sophomore Anthony Borden added 12.

Vashon, the defending Missouri Class 5 champion, had its hands full with Memphis Central.

In a competitive game, the two teams were never separated by more than four points. The Wolverines led 32-29 at the half.

The Warriors' quickness disrupted the passing lanes and created problems for the Wolverines in a turnover-filled third quarter, as Central pulled ahead 48

-47 and extended the lead to 50-47 with the initial score of the final period.

Then Vashon's 6-7 Division-I recruit Leon Powell took over, scoring eight of the next nine points to lift the Wolverines to a 56-54 advantage with 3:10 left.

With the score at 60-56 and 2:06 remaining, the Warriors' Reubin Clayton drained a fadeaway 3-pointer from deep in the right corner to close the gap to 60-59.

Vashon's junior guard Derron Hobbs played a key role in the Wolverines' late run. He hit two free throws, blocked a Clayton shot, then countered with a 2-

point field goal on successive possessions to give the Wolverines a little breathing room at 62-59. Central (1-1) tacked on a field goal to cut the lead to 62-61 with 40 seconds remaining.

A final Vashon field goal, off an assist from Hobbs, preceded Clayton's desperation 3-point miss at the horn.

Clayton, a 6-3 scoring machine, poured in 32 points while Powell paced Vashon with 29.

Vashon's win was the second without a loss under new head coach Anthony Bonner, the former Vashon, St. Louis University and NBA player who succeeded longtime Vashon coach Floyd Irons.

The Bell City Cubs bounced back from a 72-38 thumping by Memphis Central on Friday to defeat Byhalia.

The Cubs (1-1) led 31-23 at the half then held on for the 67-62 victory.

Will Bogan, the 6-10, 300-pound senior post, finished with 23 points for the Class 1 state runner-up Cubs. Phillip Gross, the 6-1 skywalking forward had 19 points and sharpshooting junior guard Nick Niemczyk added 17.

Byhalia (0-2) was topped in scoring by Dawan Malone's 12, followed by freshman Jermone Marion's 11.