CHARLESTON - The Charleston Bluejays basketball team defeated the visiting New Madrid County Eagles on Tuesday night, 66-36.
The Bluejays started the game out slowly, but recovered in the second half with strong defense to lead the turnaround. Charleston had 16 steals as a team and forced NMCC to commit 25 turnovers.
"I thought we came out very flat offensively," said Charleston head coach Danny Farmer. "Our shots were not falling early and the guys got down on themselves to compound the problem. It is easy to play flat against New Madrid because they play so strong and our very athletic and aggressive out on the floor."
Charleston led 9-8 after one quarter, as both teams combined to commit 10 turnovers in the quarter.
"Our goal coming into the game was to get off to a fast start in the first quarter," said NMCC head coach Travis Day. "I thought we accomplished our goal, but we settled and were satisfied with our first quarter performance. We got careless with the basketball and we can't do that against a good basketball team. We have got to learn to value every possession."
The Bluejays made a run in the second with four reserves. Garyion Johnson was the only starter on the floor when Charleston went on a 7-0 run to lead the Eagles 16-8 with five minutes to play in the quarter.
Jerquawn Sherrell was a big catalyst off the bench for the Bluejays as he posted six points in the quarter to jump start Charleston.
A big contributor to the 27-17 Bluejay lead at halftime was the difference in free throw attempts and makes. For the first half, Charleston outshot the Eagles 12-2 in free throw attempts, outscoring NMCC 9-1 in the first half.
The Bluejays started the third quarter on a 9-0 run and led 36-17 with 5:50 to play in the quarter. Charleston hit three 3-pointers in the third, two by Justin Clark and one by Shawn Sherrell, to put some distance between them and the Eagles to start the fourth quarter. After three quarters of action, the Bluejays led 46-29.
NMCC beat themselves in the fourth quarter, as the Eagles committed more turnovers than points, 9-7, in the quarter. Charleston took advantage of the turnovers with a 15-5 run midway through the fourth and led 61-34 with four minutes remaining in the game.
"Our defense carried us late in the game," said Farmer. "The offense was not clicking for us tonight, but our defense earned us the win. If the offense is not working, I feel we can always fall back on our defense."
Despite the solid defense by Charleston, Day feels his club did not have their best shooting night.
"We missed some gimme shots down low," said Day. "It was ridiculous how many opportunities we had to score in the paint and we didn't convert. We should have made some of those little baskets."
Junior Leslie Williams was the only Eagle to reach double figures with 11 points. Darrence Perkins chipped in seven points and had a game high 13 rebounds (six offensive) for NMCC.
Charleston had five players score eight points or more led by Jamarcus Williams with 14 points and had a team high eight rebounds (four offensive). Clark finished with 13 points and hit three 3's in the game for the Bluejays.
Sherrell, who is still recovering from an infection in his left hand, had 11 points, seven steals, five rebounds and three assists for the Bluejays. Antonio Riggens came off the bench and chipped in nine points, five rebounds and four steals for Charleston.
The Bluejays outscored the Eagles bench 21-6 and outrebounded NMCC 33-29 (15-10 offensive) in the contest.
NMCC (3-8) travels to Cape Central on Friday night, while Charleston (12-3) travels to Scott County Central.
Both games are scheduled to start at 6 p.m.
The Risco Tigers dropped their first Tri-County Conference game of the year at home to the Clarkton Reindeer, 72-38.
Clarkton led 41-15 at halftime and put the game away in the third quarter, outscoring the Tigers 27-12.
"We were not ready to play tonight," said Risco head coach Brandon Blankenship. "Clarkton played well tonight even without one of their starting guards. The simple truth of the matter is that we are not on the same level as they are. Clarkton handed it to us in every aspect of the game."
Derek Fowler led Risco with 13 points and Kyle White chipped in eight points.
Clarkton was led in scoring by Tyler Criglar and Dustin Ferguson who had 18 points apiece.
Justin Brown had 12 points and Casey Redden also scored in double figures for the Reindeer with 11 points.
Risco (1-8) travels to Campbell on Friday at 6 p.m.