SIKESTON -- Although poised to pull off the upset, the Scott County Central Bravettes had no answer for Charleston junior Kasuela Cooper.
The 6-1 forward recorded a career-high 50 points on Tuesday at Ronnie Cookson Gymnasium all while battling the upset-minded Bravettes to an 83-67 victory.
"We didn't come out ready to play tonight," Charleston coach Josh Thompson said. "Scott Central is not a team that's going to beat themselves. They play hard. We committed a lot of turnovers and missed some shots."
Cooper, however, wasted little time making her dominant presence felt. She scored 16 points in the first quarter pacing the Lady Bluejays to a 26-21 lead. She continued with eight in the second and 17 in the third. She closed out the game with 10 in the fourth.
"She scored a lot, but she scored a lot on steals and putbacks," Thompson said about Cooper. "We didn't really throw her the ball that much down low, but she got a lot of hustle points.
"Kasuela's going to get those points no matter who she's playing."
What would be a close contest for three quarters, a seven-point swing in less than 12 seconds at the end of the third pushed the Lady Bluejays in front for good.
Four turnovers committed by the Bravettes led to the turnaround.
"We needed that," said Thompson. "Basketball is a game of runs. We were able to get one at the end of the third and we were able to take control in the fourth."
Scott Central had to fight back from an early deficit, however, to make it the close three-quarter game that it was.
After tying the game at two points a piece, Charleston, ran off 11-unanswered to force the issue.
Led by Daisy Gillespie's seven points, Scott Central pulled to within 1-point at the end of the quarter and ended up being down by five going into the second.
The Bravettes took their first lead of the game with 3:23 left in the first half after Derien Ditto scored off a steal by Abby Ross, 30-29.
Four lead changes occurred shortly after with SCC taking a 40-35 lead into the half.
"I'm seeing things happen that wasn't happening throughout the season," Scott Central coach Semona Penrod said. "We're running our offense better and we're doing a better job of breaking the press. I'm really proud of their efforts. They're doing a great job of playing together and that's what led to our lead."
Scott Central, who is riddled with freshman and sophomore players, led for most of the third frame until the last 12 seconds. Pass after pass continued to get picked off as Charleston took full advantage and grabbed a 59-55 lead heading into the final quarter.
"We get to a point to where a few things go wrong and we not able to hold it together," Penrod said. "I hope that's just them being freshman and sophomores. I hope."
A 6-2 run by the Lady Bluejays followed and they quickly found themselves ahead by 10 points to start the fourth quarter. The Bravettes could only get as close as eight points in the final six minutes as Charleston ended with the victory.
Behind Cooper's whopping 50 points, Eneikqua Ewing, Taylor Duenne and Lakeisha Wilson all added eight points apiece.
"She was tough," Penrod said about Cooper." She rebounded well and we just couldn't keep up with her."
Balanced scoring from the Bravettes saw Mikaela Blissett and Ditto led their team with 16 points apiece. Abby Ross and Daisy Gillespie each chipped in 12 points as well.
"These girls aren't selfish," said Penrod. "They pass it to the open person and most of them work really hard on their shooting and free throws. That's something that helped us out tonight.
"They're a great group of kids that work really hard. They have a great future ahead. We're just going to have to keep hitting the grind."
CHARLESTON (83) -- Taylor Duenne 8, Kasuela Cooper 50, Eneikqua Ewing 8, Lakeisha Wilson 8, Jasmine Spence 7, Demeshia Owens 2. FG 37, FT 7-21, F 18. (3-pointers: Duenne 2. Fouled out: none.)
SCOTT CENTRAL (67) -- Mikaela Blissett 16, Johniqua Fort 4, Derrien Ditto 16, Starr Lawless 7, Abby Ross 12, Daisy Gillespie 12. FG 26, FT 14-22, F 17. (3-pointers: Gillespie 1. Fouled out: Gillespie.)