The Kennett Indians ended the Bluejays season on Friday night during the Class 3, District 1 championship game with a 75-62 win at Kennett High School.
The Bluejays were 38 percent (24-of-64) from the field which included 14 missed 3-pointers. The often 3-point happy Bluejays did not make one 3-pointer the entire game.
"We just didn't have it tonight," Charleston head coach Danny Farmer said. "A lot of people played bad at the wrong time."
A large part of the Bluejays' struggles from the field was the overall shutdown defense of the Indians. Kennett, who will face Arcadia Valley in the sectional round on Wednesday at the Bearcat Event Center in Dexter, focused in-particular on the Bluejays' top offensive threat, Deonte Jones.
"We were going to do everything we could not to let Deonte have it," Kennett head coach Jim Vaughan said.
Jones finished with 10 points in the loss including just two in the first half. Everywhere Jones went, a Kennett defender was sure to follow.
"They were holding me very, very close," Jones said. "I couldn't get loose. They just took me completely out of the game."
The Bluejays were 6-of-17 from the field in the first quarter missing short jumpers, putbacks and four 3-pointers. The Bluejays were 12-of-30 from the field in the first half.
Their thrilling, double overtime 86-82 winner against rival NMCC just a night before may have had a bit to do with the Bluejays struggles.
"I'm sure it did," Farmer said. "Then coming back and playing another quick team that puts a lot of pressure on us, we had to be fatigued some. But, you can't take anything away from Kennett. They played well, shot the ball well and they wanted the game a lot more."
Although as a team Charleston was ice cold, the play of senior Demarques McKeller kept the Bluejays close in the first half. McKeller scored 10 points in the first two quarters including six of their first nine to begin the game.
Nothing was going to stop the junior duo of Fred Garmon and Randrick Caruthers. The two torched the Bluejays for a combined 48 points. Garmon led the Indians with 28 while Caruthers added a hefty 20.
"They're two very good ball players," Farmer said. "I thought they played smart when it counted. When we tried to put the pressure on them they didn't panic. They did what they had to do to win and that was pretty impressive.
"They're tough. Both of them are juniors, that's the worst thing about it, we'll have to see them again next year," joked Farmer.
Garmon scored 13 points in the first half while Caruthers chipped in with 11.
Although the Indians controlled the tempo and forced 14 first half turnovers, Charleston, somehow, was able to find themselves down by four after the first quarter and five at the half, 36-31.
A 9-0 Kennett run to begin the second half was the beginning of the end for Charleston. Back-to-back buckets from senior Jimmy Gooden, a 3-pointer by Garmon and a basket by Caruthers gave the Indians a 45-31 lead in just two minutes time.
A 5-for-19 shooting display throughout the quarter by the Bluejays did not help matters either.
Kennett went up by as much as 17 points in the third quarter and held a 55-42 advantage heading into the final frame.
Despite facing their largest deficit of the game, Charleston made it a bit interesting in the fourth quarter. Down by 12, sophomore Devonte Johnson hit one free throw which was followed by a basket by McKeller to trim the Kennett deficit to nine points with just over four minutes remaining. Three times the Bluejays cut it to nine points; the last time coming with 2:23 left coming on two Johnson free throws. Kennett's Jack Walls put a permanent end to the nine point deficit after converting a conventional 3-point play just 14 seconds after Johnson cut it to nine for the third time.
Charleston hung around the 11-point mark after that but Kennett free throws and a shortage of time gave the Indians their first district title since the 1974-75 season.
"They sustained and hit free throws down the stretch," Farmer said. "We missed easy buckets and missed free throws down the stretch and that's how they was able to pull away."
McKeller led the Bluejays with 19 points while Johnson added 11 points.
The Bluejays, who finished with a 15-13 record, were not expected to make it this far into districts. Especially to play for a district championship. Halfway through the season, Charleston had a record of 5-11. They rattled off nine wins in 10 games just to get over .500.
"We're pleased with our season," said Farmer. "We play everybody and will play anybody and we got better throughout the season. We knocked off some good teams towards the end. The season just ended a little short for us."
Notes: Charleston will be losing both Deonte Jones and Demarques McKeller to graduation. Jones had been the go-to-guy for Charleston all season and will be a huge void to try and replace.
"Deonte has always been our leader and he was the leader all the way through," Farmer said. "I'm going to hate losing him but, he's got to graduate."
Jones is currently drawing interest from two colleges; Columbia College, a NAIA Division I program, and Highland Community College in Highland, Kan.
"I can say I had fun at CHS," Jones said. "I love my school and I love this sport. I'm going to miss it."
CHARLESTON (60) -- Ryan Parham 9, Gregory Tucker 6, Deonte Jones 10, Demarques McKeller 19, Devonte Johnson 11, Krushon Scott 7. FG 24 FT 14-23 F 19. (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: none.)
KENNETT (75) -- Jack Walls 5, Cameron Wallace 4, Fred Garmon 28, Randrick Caruthers 20, Dwight Usry 4, Adam Grantham 2, Jimmy Gooden 12. FG 27 FT 19-21 F 19. (3-pointers: Garmon 2. Fouled out: none.)