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Saturday, Apr. 19, 2014

Bluejays rally for win in third place game

Sunday, March 20, 2011

(Photo)
Charleston junior Greg Tucker and senior Claude Armstrong hold the Class 3 third place championship trophy on Friday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. The Bluejays defeated Elsberry 87-79.
(Chris Pobst, Staff)
COLUMBIA -- "Aw shucks we got dem Jays fired up!"

If you hear this over the course of a game, it usually means the Charleston Bluejays are rolling.

In the second half of Friday's Class 3 third place game against Elsberry, the Charleston student body made sure everyone in Mizzou Arena was aware that the Bluejays were indeed on fire as they rallied past the Indians 87-79 in a record-setting performance.

The Bluejays (25-6) tied a Show-Me Showdown record by scoring 64 points in one half and broke a Showdown record with 38 points in one quarter.

Charleston had to overcome a 22-point halftime deficit and as much as 24 points early in the third quarter to pull out the victory.

The Bluejays showed just how dangerous they can be when they heat up from the perimeter as they made eight 3-pointers in the second half and 12 overall.

"That's us -- that's one reason we don't quit," Charleston coach Danny Farmer said. "When we get hot, we can play with any team around. We've got about five or six of them that can light it up every once in a while."

None were hotter than Charleston senior Jerry Carter, who drained four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, including one with 3:32 left in the game that gave Charleston the lead for good. Carter finished the game 6-for-13 from 3-point range on his way to 22 points.

"It didn't matter where they were at or where they caught it or who caught it, they were ready to jack," Elsberry coach Ryan Parker said. "You knew they were capable of shooting it. We play that zone and usually we guard the 3-point line out of the zone a lot better than we do out of the man. It sounds crazy, but that's how we've been all year. They just caught fire."

Coinciding with the Bluejays' hot shooting was their defensive pressure turning it up a notch, forcing seven crucial turnovers in the fourth quarter. Charleston scored 15 points off Indian turnovers in the fourth.

"We always think we can wear teams down," Farmer said. "Our intensity level is what we try to pride ourselves with. We know in the SEMO Conference you've got to have that intensity level. If you're not accustomed to doing it in practice then it's going to wear on you."

It clearly affected Elsberry (26-6) as the Indians were worn completely out down the stretch.

"I think it just started snowballing there in the second half and it just kept going," Parker said. "We'd turn the ball over and they'd hit a 3. We'd hit a 2 and they'd hit a 3. Once they got close, if we could just stop them from scoring we'd be alright, but it just never happened."

The first half was a different story as Charleston may have been experiencing a hangover from the previous night's gut-wrenching overtime loss to Hogan Prep in the semifinals.

Elsberry took charge from the start, bolting out to a 21-7 lead after one quarter. The Indians continued to pour it on in the second quarter, taking a 45-23 lead into halftime.

Elsberry, featuring a frontline of 6-foot-9 and 6-foot-7, scored 32 of its first half points in the paint. The Indians shot 67 percent from the field in the first half and out-rebounded the Bluejays 22-10. Charleston shot just 22 percent from the field in the first half.

"As you can see we were really down from last night," Farmer said. "But that second half exemplifies what we've been about the whole year. We never quit. We just try, try and try. And we believe. That's why we're here in Columbia."

The Bluejays began their comeback in the third quarter. The Indians took a 47-23 lead at the start of the quarter, but Charleston slowly and methodically began chipping away.

Charleston junior Greg Tucker scored 11 of his game-high 29 points in the third quarter as the Bluejays had cut the lead to 62-49 heading into the fourth quarter.

Elsberry was still clinging to a 69-59 lead with 5:28 left in the game, but Charleston went on an 18-2 run in a matter of just two and a half minutes of game time. Just like that, Charleston had seized complete control of the ballgame.

"I didn't think they were ready to play in the first half," Parker said of the Bluejays. "They were disappointed that they weren't in the championship game. Us, we just wanted to go out and have fun and send three seniors off in a positive note. I think their coach laid into them at half. I told them at halftime that if they make 10 3's then we were in trouble. They made 12. They caught fire in the second half."

Also having a big day for the Bluejays was sophomore point guard Ryan Parham, who finished with 13 points and 10 assists.

"He's phenomenal," Farmer said of Parham. "He's only a sophomore and you wouldn't know it when you see him out on the court the way he plays and the way he carries himself. His I.Q. of the game is very high. He's a coach's dream. The great thing about Ryan is he's a 10th grader."

Bluejay sophomore Michael Hull scored nine points off the bench.

Charleston was out-rebounded 42-31 in the game, but they forced 17 turnovers compared to just six themselves.

Elsberry was led by 6-7 junior Matthew Loesing with 27 points (11-12 shooting) and 12 rebounds. Junior point guard Scott Kroeger scored 21 points with nine rebounds and eight assists.

"They came out and they doubled me and got it out of my hands and we played so conservative," Kroeger said. "We waited for everybody to get back across halfcourt and we'd dribble to the corner and got trapped. It was just over and over and over and that's what led to easy shots and 3's and everything. They were getting run-outs and knocking down shots."

Charleston will graduate three seniors off this year's team: Carter, Claude Armstrong and Avery Williams.

When asked about his chances with next year's team, Farmer said with a smile, "we think we will be back here next year."

Elsberry21241717--79
Charleston7162638--87

ELSBERRY (79) -- Matthew Loesing 27, Scott Kroeger 21, Allen Holland 9, Ryan Hurley 8, Jordan Powell 5, Brennen Hurley 4, Tyler Ligon 4, Kevin Dotson 1. FG 31, FT 14-20, F 26. (3-pointers: Kroeger 1, Hurley 1, Powell 1. Fouled out: Kroeger).

CHARLESTON (87) -- Greg Tucker 29, Jerry Carter 22, Ryan Parham 13, Michael Hull 9, Claude Armstrong 4, Krushon Scott 3, Aaron Cassell 3, Trey Watkins 2, Jamaul Gray 2. FG 25, FT 25-35, F 16. (3-pointers: Carter 6, Tucker 3, Hull 2, Cassell 1. Fouled out: none).