(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
CHARLESTON -- The spark and the intensity they were seeking came just at the right time for the Charleston Bluejays.
Up by just one point to the visiting Jackson Indians heading into the fourth quarter, something clicked for Charleston sparking an 11-0 run to crush any hopes of a Jackson upset on Tuesday night.
The Bluejays, Class 3's top-ranked team, ended up winning their 19th straight, 69-55.
And they did it without a fully serviceable Greg Tucker, who is dealing with a nagging thigh injury.
"We knew that our star player Greg was injured, so we all had to step up and score points and be smart," Parham said with a smile. "We didn't really worry about the score. We just had to play smart in the last quarter."
Parham, who scored the fourth quarter's first bucket, led Charleston with 16 points on 8 of 12 shooting while dishing out 10 assists.
Senior Aaron Cassell, who scored eight points, knocked down a fan-pleasing 3-pointer just 30 seconds later giving the Bluejays instant momentum.
Two minutes later, Charleston found themselves up by 12 points before Jackson could answer with a field goal.
"Our defense keeps us in the game when our offense is struggling," Charleston head coach Danny Farmer said. "We turned it up and picked our intensity up right there at the start of the fourth quarter and the guys put it away."
After missing their first five shots of the quarter, Jackson senior John Meyer finally put the Indians on the fourth quarter scoreboard following an offensive stick back after four minutes had passed by.
"Part of that is a lack of confidence," Jackson head coach Darrin Scott said. "We're getting better, but we missed a couple of shots and then they hit a few. We've got to get better at feeling like we're a good team and we can go back down and score.
"We just needed to make one of those shots in that sequence."
Michael Hull answered Meyer's basket with a 3-pointer, followed by a steal and a layup to give Charleston a very comfy 60-45 lead.
"Jackson always plays tough," Parham said. "We didn't expect them to quit at all. They knocked down some good looks and ran a good offense."
The Indians pulled within 10 after senior Caleb Newcomer drained a 3-pointer, but Cassell sparked a 9-5 run after a 3-pointer of his own to close out the game.
Tucker scored 13 points. Junior Darrion Carter pulled his weight from off the bench adding 13 points to the cause. Hull chipped in 10.
"I thought all the kids played well with Tucker kind of hobbled by his thigh," Farmer said. "I think Darrion (Carter) played the game of his life. That's what I tell my role players, when I call your number they need to be ready. Darrion set an example for all of the kids because when he was called he was ready to play."
Jackson had little trouble combating Charleston's defensive pressure for the first three quarters. The Indians were able to run their offense and slow the game down which enabled them to get the shots they were looking for.
"We did a great job of being strong with the basketball and attacking the basket," said Scott. "We shot-faked well so we could get in the paint. With the exception of a three minute stretch in the fourth quarter, I was pleased with our effort."
Jackson shot 52 percent (10 of 19) in the first half which included an 80 percent mark (4 of 5) from behind the arc.
"The big thing was that we got good shots," Scott said. "That's something we haven't been great at all year and I thought we were much better. The shots we were getting, were shots we wanted to get and they were our tempo.
"When we do that, I feel like we're a pretty good offensive team."
Charleston, who are 20-1 and 5-0 in the SEMO Conference, hit 1 of 7 from 3-point range in the first two quarter while nailing 44 percent (11 for 25) from the floor.
The Bluejays edged the Indians 15-13 in the first quarter where Tucker scored seven of his 13 points.
A 3-pointer by Jackson junior Braxton McDowell gave the Indians a 28-27 lead with 1:39 left in the second quarter. Senior Jamaul Gray and Tucker, however, scored the half's final two buckets to give their squad a 31-28 halftime lead.
The third quarter contained six lead changes with McDowell giving Jackson (12-9) their final lead with 1:03 left in the third with his second 3-pointer. Carter pulled his team ahead by one point after a lay in with 49 seconds left.
Charleston's 11 unanswered points came shortly after, following the start of the fourth quarter.
Jackson, who shot 20 of 43 from the floor (46 percent) was led by Meyer's 14 points, while Josh Daume and Karson King added 13 and 11.
Charleston shot 49 percent (26 of 53).
The Bluejays will be off until next Tuesday when they travel to Benton to take on the Kelly Hawks.
JACKSON (55) -- Josh Daume 13, Caleb Newcomer 6, Braxton McDowell 8, Calvin Lysell 2, Karson King 11, Josh Meyer 14, Luke Stevens 2. FG 20 FT 8-10 F 15 (3-pointers: Daume 2, Newcomer 2, McDowell 2, King 1. Fouled out: Stevens.)
CHARLESTON (69) -- Aaron Cassell 8, Ryan Parham 16, Michael Hull 10, Greg Tucker 13, Jamaul Gray 8, Krushon Scott 1, Darrion Carter 13. FG 26 FT 13-15 F 10 (3-pointers: Cassell 2, Hull 2. Fouled out: none.)