Fouls fuel Charleston's league win over Central

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Central played half of Tuesday's boys basketball game at home without top players Scott Chestnutt and Ryan Delph due to foul trouble.

Already undermanned with power forward Mitch Craft out with an ankle injury, Central's (16-8) foul trouble was too much to overcome as state-ranked Charleston (21-3) avoided the foul bug and cruised to a 64-55 SEMO Conference win.

Despite an 11-2 run to open the game by the Blue Jays, the Tigers kept within striking distance of Charleston with a 10-5 run that pulled Central within five after one quarter.

After losing Delph to his third foul with 6:26 left in the second quarter, the Tigers were dealt the fatal blow when Chestnutt picked up back-to-back fouls with 3:35 left in the half. After picking up a double-foul and matching double-technical in the first quarter, Chestnutt's two second-quarter fouls gave him four before halftime.

Central coach Derek McCord said playing against a strong team like Charleston, it's hard to recover after losing a top player so early.

"You want to be at full strength," he said.

With Chestnutt on the bench, the Blue Jays dominated the boards and built a 13-point lead late in the half.

"That's when we want to go to the inside," Charleston coach Danny Farmer said. "His presence makes a difference."

Central forward Corey Bowman, who replaced Chestnutt, said the Tigers simply didn't do a good enough job on the boards in Chestnutt's absence.

"We could have rebounded a little better," he said. "Boxing out kind of killed us."

Charleston built a 17-point lead early in the third quarter with Chestnutt watching from the bench. To stop the Blue Jay push, McCord went to Chestnutt with 3:35 left in the third quarter, a move that paid off immediately.

With Chestnutt back in, the Tigers cut the lead to 10 with a little over a minute left in the third, but the Tigers' momentum wouldn't last. Ashton Farmer's 3-pointer with less than a minute left put the Blue Jays back up 13, a lead they would maintain for most of the fourth quarter.

Although Charleston's lead proved insurmountable, Central continued to pressure the Blue Jays and outscored Charleston 22-18 in the final quarter.

McCord said Central is not the type of team to lay down.

"Our kids showed a lot of character," he said. "We were undermanned, but we didn't quit."

Despite the loss, McCord pointed to many positives. Central was out-rebounded by only three and forced 15 turnovers, while only committing nine. Chestnutt finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds in little more than two quarters.

"Our kids realize we've made some strides this year," he said. "But we have a lot more work to do."

For Farmer and the Blue Jays, after picking up a grinding win over the Tigers they now will turn their attention to the Southeast Missourian No. 1 team, Poplar Bluff. The squads square off Friday night for the SEMO Conference title.

"We feel great," Farmer said. "The Bluff game will be a real test."

The Tigers will host DeSoto in their final regular-season game Friday night. Win or lose, McCord said this team still has a lot of basketball ahead of them.

"We're going to bounce back from this," he said.

For the Tigers, Bowman finished with nine points and six rebounds. Will Johnson added 12 points and six rebounds. Kewain Gant had 14 points for Charleston and Farmer added 13.

jjoffray@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 171

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