(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
CAPE GIRARDEAU -- Friday night's win over the Notre Dame Bulldogs couldn't have been any sweeter.
Not only did the Charleston Bluejays best 15 other teams and win the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament, they broke a strand of eight-straight years without hoisting a trophy and added their 16th tournament title to their already overflowing trophy case.
But that's not all.
Their 58-50 win over the Bulldogs gave Charleston head coach Danny Farmer his 300th career victory at Charleston High School.
"We've come up here with more talented teams and couldn't win it," Farmer said. "But, to win it this year is really great."
Farmer's record at Charleston is now 300-120. His overall coaching record stands at 551-156.
"It's real good to get that for him," Charleston senior Greg Tucker said. "He really loves to win and he really loves basketball so, it's important."
From the opening tip, the top-seeded Bluejays (11-1) were fully in control of the game as their patient offense and suffocating defense kept the Bulldogs looking up the entire way through.
Charleston junior Ryan Parham and Division I signee Greg Tucker proved too tough of a tandem to contain for Notre Dame as the two combined for 33 points.
"Ryan had another great game and we needed him to step it up," Farmer said.
The Bluejays gained a lot of information from a previous meeting with the Bulldogs less than two weeks ago when Charleston went to Notre Dame High School and escaped with a 70-59 victory.
"We knew what they were about," Parham said. "We just had to grind it out."
Charleston led 30-22 at halftime, thanks in large part to Parham, who sank four 3-pointers in the first half.
"It was real big for (Parham) to get going," Tucker said. "Really, it loosened up the defense for everybody else. Once he started hitting those threes, they started rushing out to everybody else a little harder and that made a lot of driving opportunities.
"It just made it a lot easier for us."
The Bluejays separated themselves even further in the third quarter by outpacing Notre Dame 15-9.
Although the Bulldogs tried to climb back in it late in the fourth quarter, closing to within seven points with 1:40 left to play, Charleston held strong and hit free throws when it mattered to come away with the win.
"We seem to always pull through," said Farmer. "We proved it again. Ryan played tough, Greg fouled out of the game but still got the ball into the right people's hands. We hit big free throws and just came out on top."
Parham, who nailed all of his five 3-point attempts, led the Bluejays with 19 points while senior Greg Tucker added 14.
"I was very pleased with our effort. We could have folded several times, but we kept battling back," Notre Dame head coach Kevin Roberts said. "We did everything we could to stay in the game. They were just the better team tonight."
It's a slightly different role than Parham is used to -- being the scorer rather than facilitator. But on Friday, he did both with the slightest of ease.
"They were fading off of me and wasn't playing me close," Parham said. "I knew I had to make big shots."
The two-year starter scored 12 of his game-high 19 in the first half on four 3-pointers. He also gave the Bluejays their biggest lead of the night, 44-31, with his fifth and final 3-pointer late in the third quarter.
Notre Dame (6-5) received 17 points from its most potent player, Nathan Meystedt, but for the most part the Bulldogs were stifled by the Charleston defense.
The Bluejays simply picked up where they left off from the beginning of the tournament where they left opponents fooled with an average of 45 points per game against them.
"We pressured them real well," Tucker said about Notre Dame. "We played them full court and I don't think they have the depth that we have to play that style. We got in the passing lanes well and gave them one shot."
Charleston rolled through their first round opponent, Woodland to open the tournament. They pulled out a somewhat surprising close game against the No. 8 seeded Scott City Rams in the second round but regrouped defensively and held their semifinal opponent, Cape Central to 39 points to advance to the championship.
"Winning the SEMO Conference tournament and this tournament was big goals for us," Tucker said. "It feels real good."
NOTRE DAME (50) -- Demonte Farmer 4, Jonathan Lynch 7, Jordan Reddin 4, Nathan Meystedt 17, Justin Landewee 2, Patrick Williamson 2, Joe Siebert 8, Cody Heisserer 2, Ryan Hale 4. FG 18, FT 11-13, F 23. (3-pointer: Lynch 1, Meystedt 2. Fouled out: Meystedt)
CHARLESTON (58) -- Aaron Cassell 7, Ryan Parham 19, Michael Hull 3, Trey Watkins 6, Greg Tucker 14, Krushon Scott 9. FG 18, FT 14-26, F 15. (3-pointer: Cassell 1, Parham 5, Hull 1, Tucker 1. Fouled out: Tucker)