(Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- The Charleston Bluejays and the New Madrid County Central Eagles did battle Monday night to cap off the opening round of the SEMO Conference Tournament in Sikeston. In the end, Charleston won the turnover battle to give the Bluejays the 53-45 victory.
"We pride ourselves on our defense," said Charleston head coach Danny Farmer. "They tried to keep pressure on us and we tried to do the same to them. It was a good, defensive game and I thought we won the battle of the defenses."
The first quarter proved to be an obstacle for both offenses as neither team was completely able to settle in and create a good run. In the closing minute of the starting quarter, the Charleston bench was called for a technical foul which consequently gave NMCC the lead 10-9 heading towards the second quarter.
However, instead of hindering the Bluejays, it proved more as motivation, sparking the Charleston team to a 6-0 run. Up 15-10, the Bluejay defense stepped up their game even more as they continued to create turnovers, resulting in several fast break opportunities.
"That team knows how to win and if you give them the ball, they're gonna make you pay and that's what they did to us," Day added.
The Bluejays came out of the locker room at the half up 23-19 and continued to steadily pull away from the Eagles behind the leadership of junior Antonio Riggens and senior Brian Parham.
Riggens finished the game with 11 points, including a 3-pointer while Parham led Charleston with 18 points.
"Brain played an excellent game and he really steeped it up for us tonight," said Farmer. "Antonio also stepped it up and I thought he handled the pressure they put on him on defense well. Those two are my captains and I expect them to continue to pick it up."
NMCC was lead by Koney Ealy with 13 points and Josh Minner who got in on the action with 12 points.
The Bluejays (3-1) will be back in action Thursday when they play the winner of the Notre Dame/Dexter game at 6 p.m.. NMCC (1-2) will try to bounce back in the consolation bracket Wednesday night at 7 p.m. when they will play the loser of the Notre Dame/Dexter game.
The Dexter Bearcats used a strong second quarter to take an 15-point lead on Kennett Monday night and held on to defeat the Indians 55-49 in a play-
in game of the SEMO Conference Tournament.
Dexter used a late flourish in the second quarter to go up 27-12 at halftime but the Indians fought back in the third quarter, forcing numerous turnovers with their man-to-man press. Kennett cut the lead to 36-34 but Dexter's Kevin Hart scored as time expired in the quarter to put Dexter up 38-34 and the Indians couldn't get any closer the rest of the game.
Dexter (1-2) was led in scoring by Hart, who finished with 24. Junior Drew Kelley chipped in 10.
Kennett (0-2) was led by Tevin Hampton's 11.
Dexter will play top-seeded Notre Dame tonight at 5:30 p.m. while Kennett will play Caruthersville Wednesday night in a consolation game.
The Cape Central Tigers used strong outside shooting and an active pressure defense to take a 48-18 lead into half against the Caruthersville Tigers and cruised to a 72-46 win Monday in a play-in game of the SEMO Conference Tournament.
Cape Central (1-2) was led by Jajuan Bell's 20 points while Anthony Watts and Chase Johnson finished with 12 and 11 respectively.
Caruthersville (0-1) was led Vohland Fonda who finished with 14. Caleb Moss ended with 13.
Cape Central will play Jackson tonight at 7 p.m. Caruthersville will take on Kennett at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.