FARMINGTON -- As the public address announcer relayed tornado warnings to fans at the Farmington Civic Center, the Charleston Bluejays were creating a little turbulence of their own inside.
Charleston stormed out of the gate, then coasted to an 85-54 quarterfinal victory over the Miller Career Academy Phoenix on Saturday, insuring a fourth straight MSHSAA Class 3 Championship final four appearance.
"We played a great first half," said Charleston coach Danny Farmer. "We were ready for these guys. After we got past Doniphan (sectional matchup), we were ready. I always said we are a better playoff team. We look forward to the playoffs. You always get a different Charleston when playoff time rolls around and we're ready to go back again."
The Bluejays, while improving to 23-7, defeated the St. Louis-area Career Academy (19-10) for the third straight season on their march to the state tournament.
Coming off a runner-up finish in 2005, the 'Jays finished third in '03 and '04.
Saturday's game bore no resemblance to Charleston's quarterfinal win over Career Academy last season, an 81-79 nailbiter.
Led by the junior tandem of Jamarcus Williams and Justin Clark, the 'Jays, sprinted to an 11-0 lead. Scoring on nearly every possession, Charleston led 27-9 after the first quarter.
Williams scored 10 points and Clark eight in the period.
The 'Jays kept the heat on in the second quarter as they took a 59-31 halftime advantage.
During the first-half runaway, Williams scored 24 of his game-high 29 and Clark 18 of his 25, including four 3-pointers. The duo also led the 'Jays effort on the glass with 11 and nine rebounds, respectively.
"That was his (Williams) steady game and Clark shot the ball extremely well tonight," said Farmer.
Although Clark and Williams were the scoring stars, it was a complete team effort for the 'Jays.
While consistently beating the opposition down the floor and making the extra pass for easy baskets, Charleston dished 26 assists -- five players had four or more.
Senior guard Tavis Hamilton led with seven, while freshman guard Antonio Riggens had six, Williams five, junior guard Shawn Sherrell and Clark four each.
Hamilton and Riggens also scored 10 points apiece.
"We were more prepared this time around after playing them three times," said Farmer. "That was our plan, to beat them down the floor. We noticed that they didn't get back well, so we wanted to push it and get layups."
Career Academy coach Michael Brown seemed perplexed about his team's inept performance.
"That's been our forte, beating people down the floor, then, all of a sudden, we were the ones getting beat," he said.
According to Brown, the Phoenix' gameplan was to deny point guard Sherrell and not let the 'Jays get into their offense.
Well, half the plan worked as Sherrell was held scoreless, but the other half failed miserably as the Phoenix' passive defensive effort was simply shredded by the Bluejays.
Charleston also sparkled on the defensive end, creating 15 turnovers with 11 steals.
The Bluejays held a 71-46 lead going into the final quarter. Clark's conventional 3-point play at the 6:25 mark of the fourth period extended the margin to 31 at 78-46 and initiated the running mercy clock.
Farmer emptied his bench as reserves played the remainder of the period.
Leading Career Academy's offense was junior guard Darrell Stokes with 14 points and senior Chad thompson added 10.
Charleston advances to the semifinal round against Mt. Vernon, a 32-31 winner over Linn, on Friday at the Mizzou Arena in Columbia at 7:40 p.m.
"I don't know anything about them," said Farmer, "but we've got a week to find out."
In the girls quarterfinal on Saturday, Doniphan defeated Career Academy 50
-44. The Donettes face Blair Oaks in a state semifinal, also at the Mizzou Arena, on Friday at 4:30 p.m.