KENNETT -- With seconds remaining in regulation and his team trailing by three, Charleston's Devonte Johnson stepped into the spotlight. Johnson drained a 3-pointer as time expired to force overtime.
Charleston eventually knocked off the New Madrid County Central Eagles in double overtime, picking up an 86-82 district semifinal victory.
"[Johnson] is not normally one of the ones to hit threes, but if he's left open he can hit them," Charleston coach Danny Farmer said. "He hit a big shot tonight."
Kony Ealy stepped up big for his team in the first overtime. He scored all six of his teams points, including a big play to tie the game up with less than two minutes to play. With 1:45 left in the first overtime, Ealy grabbed an offensive rebound and got a layup to fall, pulling the teams even at 77.
On Charleston's next possession, they chose to run the clock down and play for one shot. With 13 seconds remaining, an errant Bluejay pass sailed out of bounds and gave the Eagles the opportunity for a last-second win.
NMCC struggled to get a play set up, forcing Coach Day to call a timeout with 4.8 seconds left. Coming out of the timeout, Jenkins received the inbound pass but was immediately surrounded by Bluejay defenders. Jenkins was able to get off a difficult jump shot but was unable to get it to fall leaving the teams tied yet again.
Despite overcoming free throw shooting struggles throughout the game, missed opportunities at the charity stripe would finally come back to haunt the Eagles in the final overtime.
NMCC missed 3-of-4 free throws over the final four minutes while Charleston knocked down 3-of-4. The Eagles were 20-of-36 from the line in the contest, while Charleston shot an impressive 26-of-32 (81 percent).
"I think the difference was we hit some key shots and knocked down some free throws," said Farmer, "and we got a key steal right there at the end. I think that was the difference."
"They made us pay for some mental lapses," said NMCC head coach Travis Day. "They hit some shots when they needed to, and we missed some key free throws when we needed them."
Charleston got offensive help from numerous players throughout the game, and they would need all the help they could get. Despite putting up 11 points in the first quarter, the Bluejays' leading scorer, Deonte Jones, was held to only seven points throughout the final three regulations periods and two overtimes. This was due in large part to the defensive effort of Jenkins.
"Jenkins did a very good job guarding Deonte," said Farmer. "He shut him down. Fortunately we have other kids that can help us, so we got a total team effort."
Four other Charleston players joined Jones in double figures.
Ealy had an impressive performance leading all scorers with 27 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. Jenkins finished with 26 points.
The win was sweet revenge for the Bluejays, and it came at a time when the season was on the line. Charleston was defeated by the Eagles in the regular season 55-51 at NMCC.
Farmer said a big factor in the win was changing things up to try to throw off the Eagles.
"We kind of mixed the defense up on them, zone and man," Farmer said. "We wanted to give them a different look from the first time we played them."
Charleston will face host Kennett in the Class 3 District 1 championship game tonight at 7:30. The Bluejays defeated Kennett 94-78 in their only regular season meeting.
CHARLESTON (86) -- Ryan Parham 7, Jerry Carter 2, Gregory Tucker 18, Claude Armstrong 14, Deonte Jones 18, Demarques McKeller 11, Devonte Johnson 16. FG 27 FT 26-32 F 25. (3-pointers: Jones 3, Johnson 1. Fouled out: McKeller.)
NMCC (82) -- Dontre Jenkins 26, Lamonta Nelson 13, Keith Holmes 8, G'Darius Stevenson 6, Kony Ealy 27, William Bledsoe 2. FG 29 FT 20-36 F 23. (3-pointers: Jenkins 1, Nelson 4, Holmes 1. Fouled out: Nelson, Ealy, Bledsoe.)