CAPE GIRARDEAU - Underdog Cape Central's strategy worked for one half, but the talented Charleston Bluejays took control in the second half.
Charleston went on to defeat Cape Central 54-33 in a SEMO Conference matchup on Tuesday.
The Bluejays (20-3, 8-1 in conference) had trouble breaking Cape Central's zone defense in the first half of action at Tiger Field House.
The Tigers (10-14, 4-4) trailed 19-17 at the half after holding the Bluejays to a season-low five points in the second quarter.
"We kind of played down to our competition, but it's too late in the season to be doing that," said Charleston coach Danny Farmer. "It's a challenge to get them fired up for a game like this."
While packing a 2-3 zone down low, the Tigers dared the Bluejays, facing a zone defense for the first time this season, to beat them from the perimeter. Charleston obliged with one of its poorer shooting nights.
There was no sign of that early in the contest as the 'Jays connected on their first three shots from the field, including two 3-pointers from Justin Clark, to rush to a 10-3 lead. For the rest of the quarter, Charleston's wayward shots began to add up as Cape Central fought to a 14-10 first-quarter deficit.
Poor shooting plagued the Bluejays in the second period as well. The Tigers' 1-for-7 shooting from the charity stripe prevented them from holding the halftime lead.
Said Farmer, "We didn't shoot the ball great, but we were able to stay close because of our defense. I knew defense would win the game once we got a comfortable lead."
Clearly the superior team, it felt like just a matter of time before the Bluejays would pull away.
Charleston, hitting the backboards relentlessly, opened the third quarter with a 13-2 run to go up 32-19.
"Offensive rebounding is what we talked about at halftime," said Farmer. "We came out the second half and played well."
Senior forward Jerrell Quinn was the rebounding ringleader with three offensive stickbacks in the second half. Quinn finished with a double-double of 13 rebounds - eight offensive - and 10 points.
"He (Quinn) played well and that's what he's capable of doing," Farmer said. "He's a great rebounder and he came through when we needed him."
The Bluejays kept the pressure on in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Tigers 19-9.
On the evening, Charleston held a decided rebounding edge with 39 to 24 for Cape Central and also committed fewer turnovers, nine to 22.
Clark led the Bluejays' scoring with 12 points, followed by Quinn's 10.
Sophomore George Hamilton topped the Tigers with 12.
Charleston hosts Poplar Bluff on Friday at 6 p.m.
Charleston won an exciting JV game 55-53 in double overtime.
Sophomore Jeremy Spencer, the smallest man on the court at 4-foot-10, hit two clutch free throws to give the 'Jays a 46-44 lead in regulation, but Cape Central's Jake Gardner countered with two free throws with .4 seconds left to tie.
The first overtime ended deadlocked at 50, then Charleston's Marquez Ware hit what proved to be the game-winning shot for a 54-53 lead with about a minute to go in the second overtime period. Spencer gave the Bluejays a little breathing room with a free-throw make with 10 seconds left.
Ware led the 'Jays with 15 points, while Cantrell Andrews paced the Tigers with 24.