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Monday, Dec. 22, 2014

Charleston to play Lutheran North for state title

Friday, March 18, 2005

(Photo)
Charleston's Ashton Farmer tires to grab the ball between Hogan Prep Academy players.
COLUMBIA - It's been nine years since the storied Charleston Bluejays basketball team has won a state championship.

Since the team won the state title in 1996, the Bluejays have made two trips to the final four only to take third both times the last two years.

Now they will have a chance to add another banner to the rafters after they defeated Hogan Prep Academy 57-41 on Thursday evening in the MSHSAA Class 3 semifinals at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.

Charleston will play for the state championship tomorrow at 12:10 p.m. against Lutheran North, which was 47-42 winners against Versailles.

"It's great to be in the finals," said Charleston coach Danny Farmer. "We've been up here two years in a row -- we lost to a great Centralia team last year and a very good Ash Grove team the year before. I'm just proud of these guys. Three sophomores and Ashton (Farmer) is a senior. This is his third time coming up here and now he has a chance to play for the championship."

(Photo)
Charleston's Jamarcus Williams fakes Hogan Prep Academy's Dametrious Johnson.
The Bluejays (22-9) left little doubt an upset would happen as they bolted out to an 11-2 lead and a 32-18 halftime edge.

The Rams (18-9) kept things interesting early in the second quarter, cutting the Charleston lead to 21-18 on a Terrance Hill basket, but that was as close as they would get.

The Bluejays closed the half on an 11-0 run.

"We wanted to make sure that the first game was our most important game," said Farmer. "We came out and played great defense."

The Bluejays also got another standout performance from 6-foot-4 sophomore Jamarcus Williams, who had a game-high 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting and 6-of-6 free throw shooting.

(Photo)
Charleston's Shawn Sherrell looks for someone to pass to.
Williams pumped in 30 points and 14 rebounds in the Bluejays' quarterfinal win against Career Academy.

"He had a great performance and he had a great performance in the quarterfinal game," said Farmer. "Defenses like to leave Jamarcus open right there at the top when we run that high-low. They double and triple down on Ashton and Jamarcus can hit that shot."

Ashton Farmer, the Bluejays' 6-foot-6 Arkansas State signee, was held to eight points and nine rebounds. He struggled at the free throw line, making just 2-of-10.

"We concentrated too much on (Farmer) it looks like," said Hogan Prep coach Brent Rueter. "His buddy (Williams) was the one that made all the points. He shot the ball well."

Charleston put the game away in the third quarter as the Rams never got closer than nine points. They trailed 44-32 with 3:47 left in the third quarter, but Charleston once again finished the quarter strong, finishing with a 9-0 run to lead 53-32 heading into the final quarter.

Substitutes played much of the fourth quarter for both teams.

"I don't feel like we came out and played -- we didn't start the game like we normally do," said Rueter. "I felt like we came out real slow and tight. Maybe it was the ride here --

I don't know. I don't feel like we gave them our full game. I felt like we should've beat this team."

The Rams turned the ball over 19 times as the Bluejays came up with 11 steals. Farmer had three steals while playing the middle of a 1-3-1 zone.

"Our scouting report said they would shoot the 3 and that's why we got in the 1-3-1," said coach Farmer. "We had trouble with their penetration and I was concerned about foul trouble. When we got in the 1-3-1 it worked so we stayed with it the rest of the game."

Bluejay sophomore Justin Clark helped stretch the Rams' defense with three 3-pointers to finish with nine points. It was his timely shooting, including one right after the Rams cut the lead to three points in the second quarter, that proved to be a momentum swing.

"I was still trying to get them to come out and get that No. 40 (Clark) on the weak side," said Rueter. "I knew he was a shooter. We were trying to contain the inside guys so much that we couldn't get to the outside to contain him. He hit some pretty big shots there."

Greg Kearney led the Rams with 15 points, including four 3-pointers. Hill had 10 points and seven rebounds.

For coach Farmer, his team is in a position that he feels is long overdue.

"We never cracked the rankings in the state and we always thought we were the best 3A team in the state," said Farmer. "And we're here now. We have nine losses, but they are quality losses. We'll play anybody. We just want to try to get better because we live for this day here. This is all we talk about at Charleston."