CHARLESTON -- The Charleston Lady Bluejays' impressive turnaround season finally came to an end on Friday evening as the Scott City Lady Rams were too much to overcome. Scott City pulled out a 52-47 victory that was decided in the last few minutes of the ballgame.
Charleston, just 3-16 last season, came away from the 2008-09 season with 17 victories and just eight losses.
"Sometimes you just keep harping on it, but from where we've come from the last three years, I'm so proud of them," said Charleston head coach Michael Minner after the game. "We left it on the court tonight. Scott City is a great ball club."
The Lady Rams collected four straight victories to earn the Class 3, District 1 title, including wins against East Prairie, Kelly and now Charleston in the district tournament.
As for Friday's contest, Scott City jumped on top early, 18-12 in the first quarter, but the Lady Bluejays didn't stay out of contention for the rest of the contest.
Each team scored nine in the second quarter, leaving the score 27-21 at the break, then Charleston followed up with 17 points in the third quarter to outscore their opponent by one.
In the fourth quarter with 2:25 left on the clock, a timeout was called and during the break Minner was handed a technical foul for being at halfcourt instead of in his coach's box. The score stood 48-47 at the time of the call in favor of the Lady Rams. From that point on Scott City's score increased while the Lady Bluejays' never moved.
Hogan knocked down the two technical foul free throws then Charleston committed a turnover which led to a foul and two more Hogan freebies to give the Lady Rams 52.
The Lady Bluejays couldn't connect on the other end in the remaining 1:44.
"They out-coached me tonight," said Minner. "Our kids left it on the floor. I thought I cost us the ballgame. I let my emotions run a little high at the end and when it's all said and done I probably took it away from the kids. I picked up a stupid technical late in the game and from that point we couldn't recover.
"It's not what I intended to happen and I feel for my kids, my seniors, the kids that have been through the struggles of the program. That's not fair to them, they're kids."
Essner and Hogan typically carry the bulk of the load for the Lady Rams and on Friday evening it was the same song and dance. Hogan provided most of the damage with 19 points and a load of rebounds while Essner was close behind with 15.
"They're both our two leading scorers," said Scott City head coach Kerry Thompson. "When you get in a ballgame like this, that's what you want. You want your scorers to at least touch the ball."
Thompson said that the other players on the squad played a significant role as well Friday evening. Stacey Heisserer, Melanie Lacey and Ashley Brant finished with six points apiece in the title win.
"We played 11 games in 20 days in February," Thompson said. "We had some tough losses and I really think that it's a credit to these girls. Some of the tough losses we had -- they came together as a team. They kept believing that they had a chance to be pretty good."
As for Charleston's box score, Sherrell finished with 15 points to lead the Lady Bluejays while Kariah Simpson added 10 and Cedrica Rodgers nine.
"I'm proud of all the things that we did this year and this is the start of Bluejay basketball," Minner said. "We're going to be a good team and we're going to be a team to be reckoned with in the future. We've got a lot coming back. This is the start of something that we hope is something great."
Scott City, now 12-13 on the season, will try to ride their momentum into Wednesday's matchup against Greenville. The two squads will tip-off around 7:30 p.m. at Poplar Bluff High School following the Charleston and Bloomfield boys game.
CHARLESTON (47) -- Jerquawnda Sherrell 15, Chelsie Lane 4, Cedrica Rodgers 9, Kasuela Cooper 7, Kariah Simpson 10, Tariah Simpson 2. FG 17, FT 6-13, F 16. (3-pointers: Sherrell 4, Rodgers 3. Fouled out: Rodgers.)
SCOTT CITY (52) -- Stacey Heisserer 6, Stephanie Essner 15, Katie Hogan 19, Melanie Lacey 6, Ashley Brant 6. FG 17, FT 14-17, F 14. (3-pointers: Essner 2. Fouled out: none.)