(Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- The Charleston Bluejays repeated as SEMO Conference champions Friday night after knocking off the Jackson Indians 63-56.
In what proved to be a see-saw battle between Charleston's athleticism and Jackson's size, the Bluejays managed to pull away in the end with steady pressure and clutch shooting down the stretch.
"It was a good game tonight, both teams played well" said Charleston head coach Danny Farmer. "But right down there in the stretch we had some key turnovers and key buckets to get us going."
In the third quarter, down by their largest deficit at 43-35, the Bluejays managed to change the complexion of the game after triggering an 10-0 run to take the lead, giving them the lift they needed to finish the game.
At the heart of that run was junior guard for the Bluejays, Antonio Riggens, who nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key to tie the game at 43-43. This changed the momentum as Charleston took their first lead of the second half following a pair of Donald Dixon's free throws.
"We needed to make a stand there," said Riggens. "I just tried to make something happen and it went in. We stepped up and played good tonight."
Riggens also stepped it up in the fourth quarter taking a steal coast to coast for two points which consequently sparked another run for the Bluejays as contributions from several players gave them the cushion they needed to seal the win.
Brian Parham had another solid outing as he along with Donald Dixon controlled the typo for the Bluejays in the first half, hitting the boards and producing on offense. Parham who finished with 16 points, had 10 of those in the first quarter while Dixon lead the team steadily with 18 points and 7-8 shooting from the free throw line.
"I was pleased with their performance tonight," said Farmer. "Brian did a super job, especially inside on the big guys and Donald shot the ball well. Along with Antonio, they have been great leaders for this 5-1 team."
Jackson's big men produced several points in the paint as they traded baskets with Charleston for most of the night. However, the Bluejays clapped down, reducing opportunities for the Indians in the second half.
"Charleston played very well," said Scott. "They did a great job pressuring us and making plays in the clutch. They rebounded very well, went to the boards, got loose balls and that's what basically beat us at the end."
Jackson was lead by Spencer Goodman with 13 points while Matt Lang and Hunter Grantham got in on the action with 12 points a piece.
The Bluejays will be back in action Tuesday night when they travel to Illinois to take on Meredian. Tip off will be tossed at 7 p.m.