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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Charleston defeats Covington; Eagles 'Kruse' to first win

Monday, December 1, 2003

Charleston's Ashton Farmer goes up for a shot while Covington's Donnel Maben defends.
NEW MADRID - The 9th Annual Riverbend Classic concluded on Saturday at New Madrid County Central High School.

Every year the tournament is designed to pit Missouri's teams against the best around the country.

If Saturday is any indication, Missouri hoops is right on par with the rest of the country.

With four games scheduled, Missouri teams made it a clean sweep. Local teams Charleston and New Madrid County Central each posted wins, as well as St. Louis powerhouse Vashon and Springfield's Kickapoo, the defending Class 5 state champion.

Charleston defeated Tennessee's Covington, 70-60, while NMCC defeated Memphis Westside 60-44, who was a late addition to the event after Rossville Academy (Tenn.) dropped out.

In the early game, Kickapoo blasted Byhalia (Miss.) 81-49 while Vashon slipped past Arkansas' reigning state champ, Pine Bluff, 43-35.

For Charleston, it was their season-opener after Friday's game was cancelled. The Bluejays, trailing 51-46 entering the fourth quarter, exploded for 24 points in the final frame to pull out the win.

Covington, a tall, athletic team, stayed in the game by relentlessly firing, and hitting, 3-pointers.

The Chargers made eight from beyond the arc, but in the end, it was the team's undoing as they couldn't stay hot.

"We don't see a lot of teams in our area where people just go down and nail it all the time," said Charleston head coach Danny Farmer. "Even when you check the shot, they're still nailing it. I knew it would be a dogfight for us. I'm just happy we came out on top."

The Bluejays also didn't help their own cause, making just 8-of-23 free throws on the night.

"We didn't shoot our free throws well, but we did the things we needed to do to win the game," said Farmer. "I was concerned about rebounding, I knew they were athletic. I didn't realize we would have a difficult time guarding them. We had a hard time keeping them from penetrating. But down the stretch we rebounded and did the things we had to do to win the game."

Charleston led 17-12 after one quarter and still led 29-28 heading into halftime.

The Bluejays received a balanced scoring attack, with five players in double figures, including freshman Jamarcus Williams, making his varsity debut.

"The freshman starting out, I knew he could help us," said Farmer. "I was really testing the waters with him. I knew we had to have him because he's a 6-4 kid that can jump. In our league we've got to have that height. I thought he did a tremendous job and was super rebounding."

Williams finished with 14 points.

Marcus Biles led the team with 18 points, followed by Ashton Farmer with 16. Trentez Lane added 11 points and Joshua Strayhorn had 10.

Covington was led by Pat Taylor's 17 points, including five 3-pointers.

After losing their season opener on Friday, the Eagles were able to give first year head coach Scott Kruse his first win at NMCC.

The Eagles fell behind 15-11 after one quarter, but took control from there.

NMCC led 24-22 at the half and blew the game open in the third quarter to lead 44-30.

"We got off to a slow start, but came out in the 2nd half with a ton of energy," said Kruse. "I felt like we were a lot better defensively. We had them in the low 30s well into the fourth quarter and I like to see that. Playing that many and rotating in this many people this early -- I'm hoping that we're going to get used to seeing the scoreboard look like that."

NMCC also got 10 players into the scoring column, one of which was not Mackal Kimble, who is expected to be one of the Eagles' top offensive players.

"I think that's what we're going to end up having," said Kruse. "It's going to be different people every night I would assume. The one consistency I hope we understand is that we're going to throw that thing into the post. We did a good job of that."

Remond Willis led the team with 14 points. Sophomore Jordan Kimball followed up with 10 points.

Westside was led in scoring by David Jackson's 27 points.

Although it was his first win at his new school, Kruse didn't get too caught up in the emotion.

"The main thing is I wanted the kids to get this first one as soon as we could, just so they could see that this is going to work," said Kruse. "It was a lot of fun and it was exciting. I just want to keep this thing going and stay consistent."

Despite graduating all five starters from last year's team, Kickapoo totally dismantled a talented Byhalia team.

The Chiefs built a 36-25 halftime lead and put the game away in the second half, out-scoring the Indians 45-24.

Kickapoo buried nine 3-pointers on the night, with four different players getting at least two each.

The Chiefs got a game-high 23 points out of Shane Laurie, the younger brother of current University of Missouri freshman Spencer Laurie.

Grant Perryman followed up with 13 points while Lucas Lemons added 12 points.

Byhalia was led in scoring by Marcello Jefferson's 14 and Randall Davis' 13 points.

Trailing 18-11 at the half, the Wolverines took control of the game with a 17-4 burst in the third quarter to lead 28-22 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Wolverines took care of business from the free throw line, hitting 15-of-20, to hold off the Zebras.

Vashon was led by Dwayne Polk's 16 points. William Franklin added nine points.

Pine Bluff got 11 points out of Caralas Moore.