(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
FARMINGTON -- Despite the enormous build-up for Wednesday's Class 3 sectional game against Malden, it seemed like just another day at the office for the Charleston Bluejays.
After a convincing 80-59 victory against the Green Wave, Charleston sets its sights on an unknown opponent in the quarterfinal round as they take on Bayless at the Farmington Civic Center tomorrow at 6 p.m.
Bayless enters the game with a 20-8 mark after knocking off Park Hills Central in another sectional game 60-49.
The Bronchos, located in St. Louis, are in the playoffs for the first time since 1995. The school only has one final four appearance, coming in 1974 when they took third in Class 3A.
Bayless is led in scoring by Mersad Ramic, a 6-foot-2 senior that averages 23.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. He's known primarily as a 3-point shooter, but has the ability to put the ball on the floor and take it to the basket.
Brandon Ewing, a 6-foot senior, averages 14.8 ppg, four rebounds and four assists. Ewing had a big game in the sectional, scoring 27 points.
Junior 5-11 guard Kory Dowell chips in with 11 ppg, 3 rpg, 5 apg and three steals.
Ramic and Ewing have drained over 70 3-pointers each while Dowell is hit 34 longballs on the year.
The Bronchos don't offer much height with 6-4 Braden Tewolde being the tallest player on the squad.
Charleston is in the state quarterfinals for the sixth straight year. The Bluejays have won their last four quarterfinal appearances on their way to the final four, taking third twice and second twice.
"This is our sixth time in a row to be in the quarterfinals," said Charleston coach Danny Farmer. "We're thrilled to be there and plan to be ready. We've put together our best three or four games right now. We normally have a lapse and get inconsistent and go to sleep, but we've put together a bunch in a row here. We've got to put together a few more good games."
The Bluejays (26-3) have won 15 straight games and have gone virtually unchallenged in their last seven games, winning all by at least 21 points.
Charleston counters with perhaps the most experienced playoff team left in the Class 3 bracket.
Senior Jamarcus Williams is a four-year starter while seniors Shawn Sherrell and Justin Clark both saw playing time as freshmen in the final four and have started the last three years.
Clark has been the Bluejays' most consistent player this year, averaging 19 ppg with the ability to drain 3-pointers or attack the rim. He had 28 points in Wednesday's sectional victory against Malden.
Sherrell, missed a few games over Christmas with a hand injury, but he's rebounded nicely to average 14 points, six assists and four steals.
Williams isn't the offensive force he's been in the past since breaking his leg during football season, but he's still one of the top rebounders in the area.
He averages 14 ppg and 10 rpg. He ripped down 15 rebounds with 11 points and four steals against Malden.
One player that has stepped up in the postseason is 6-4 senior Jerrell Quinn, who scored 10 points with nine rebounds against Malden.
If Charleston manages to defeat Bayless, the Bluejays will be in the final four for the fifth straight season, a remarkable accomplishment in itself, but there's still one thing missing -- a state championship
"We feel like we have some unfinished business," said Farmer.