NEW MADRID -- The Charleston Bluejays wanted to make sure that there would be no repeat of last year.
After such a brutal double-overtime victory against New Madrid County Central in last year's district semifinal game, the Bluejays had nothing left in the tank in a lopsided loss to Kennett in the championship game the following night.
This time the roles appear to be reversed as top-seeded Charleston easily cruised to an 83-37 victory over fourth-seeded Twin Rivers in Thursday's Class 3, District 1 semifinals at NMCC High School.
The Bluejays, winners of 12 straight, will play second-seeded Kennett tonight at 7:30 for the district title. The Indians had to rally from six points down in the fourth quarter to defeat third-seeded Caruthersville 69-66.
While Kennett was battling for the lives, Charleston coach Danny Farmer felt pretty good about his team's performance.
"We played great," Farmer said. "That's the one thing I told them, 'a great, excellent game and lets get ready for the championship tomorrow. Go home, get rest so we could be ready for it.' We played awesome. We played defense well and we shot it well. We've been shooting it well here lately. And when we're on, we're on."
The Bluejays (21-5) not only drained 10 3-pointers in the game, but their defensive pressure overwhelmed the Royals (19-7).
Charleston jumped out to a quick 14-3 lead and one could already sense that the game was well on its way to a blowout just minutes into the contest.
The Bluejays led 22-8 after one quarter.
"Our gameplan was the pressure defense and try to jump on them quick and try to end the game early so we could rest our legs for tomorrow," Farmer said.
Just two minutes into the second quarter, Charleston already led 34-10 after a Michael Hull 3-pointer to cap a 16-2 run.
"We knew coming in that they couldn't keep up with the pace," Charleston guard Greg Tucker said. "So we just wanted to get up in them in the first quarter and get them out of breath during the second quarter. We were just pressuring the ball in the passing lanes. We got a lot of turnovers and made them throw the ball out of bounds a lot. That's what our defense does."
Charleston continued the onslaught the rest of the half, eventually settling for a 48-18 halftime lead.
'"Straight up man to man, they just get after you," Twin Rivers coach Dustin Benson said. "From the time you take it out to the time you set up your offense, they just hound you. As a guard it just wears you down. It takes a toll and makes it hard to get in your offense. We had a plan coming in, but they did such a good job defensively, it just totally took us out of our gameplan and we had to go to plan B and it wasn't very good."
The Bluejays scored 17 points off 14 Twin Rivers turnovers in the first half while scorching the nets from the perimeter, draining 5-of-9 from 3-point range. They shot 18-27 from the field overall in the first half.
Tucker put on an offensive and defensive show. The 6-foot-2 junior standout scored 22 of his 24 points in the first half, including four steals and a charge drawn.
"Greg played a great game," Farmer said. "Greg is the type of kid that he plays better when he's challenged. I can't say enough about him, he always rises to the occasion when you need him."
But it wasn't just Tucker doing the damage. Senior Jerry Carter scored all 12 of his points in the third quarter, all on four 3-pointers. Krushon Scott and Claude Armstrong pounded the inside to combine for 19 points.
"Every time I've seen them play this year, they do the same thing they did tonight, and that's just make shots," Benson said. "They just make shots. Carter was just unconscious tonight. And I don't think it's just tonight, I've seen them three or four times now, him and Tucker, they do it every night."
The Bluejays took a 68-31 lead into the fourth quarter and enforced the mercy clock.
Charleston was able to rest its starters for most of the second half as none of them even saw the floor in the fourth quarter.
Remembering what happened in last year's district tournament, it turned out to be a picture-perfect night for Farmer and the Bluejays, from getting his starters a break to watching Kennett's struggle with Caruthersville.
"It's a plus," Farmer said. "That's what we wanted to do. What happened tonight is what we had planned to happen so we could rest starters and try to win a district championship."
The Bluejays, who defeated Kennett on the road 86-70 last month, will be shooting for their eighth district championship in the last 10 years and the school's area-leading 28th overall.
TWIN RIVERS (37) -- Cole McBroom 9, Eric Ray 8, Dustin Teague 8, Mason Oberbramer 5, Michael Snider 4, Garrett Stockton 2, Jacob Whitlock 1. FG 15, FT 4-9, F 10. (3-pointers: Oberkramer 1. Fouled out: none).
CHARLESTON (83) -- Greg Tucker 24, Jerry Carter 12, Krushon Scott 10, Claude Armstrong 9, Aaron Cassell 7, Michael Hull 6, Sumner Foster 4, Ryan Parham 4, Avery Williams 3, Jamaul Gray 2, Trey Watkins 2. FG 22, FT 7-10, F 14. (3-pointers: Carter 4, Tucker 2, Hull 2, Cassell 1, Williams 1. Fouled out: none).
CARUTHERSVILLE (66) -- Belton McWilliams 16, David Shaw 3, Elbie Fonda 10, Jamal Johnson 11, Darrell Monroe 15, Claude Taylor 11. FG 28, FT 6-14, F 24. (3-pointers: Shaw 1, E. Fonda 1, Johnson 1, Monroe 1. Fouled out: none)
KENNETT (69) -- Jay Shavers 20, Randrick Caruthers 13, Cameron Wallace 11, Fred Garmon 2, Jack Walls 8, Adam Grantham 6, Andy Lack 7, Jajuan Wallace 2. FG 22, FT 19-33, F 18. (3-pointers: Shavers 2, C. Wallace 2. Fouled out: none)