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Jackson's boys bid for title falls short
Charleston claimed the SEMO Conference tournament with a 63-56 victory in the final.
SIKESTON, Mo. -- Because the Charleston boys basketball team struggled shooting from the outside during Friday night's SEMO Conference tournament championship game, the Bluejays went to Plan B -- the inside game.
By the end of the night, the Bluejays had demonstrated their ability to hit from inside, outside and in transition during a 63-56 victory against Jackson.
"They rebounded well and they were aggressive on defense," Jackson coach Darrin Scott said. "Rebounding was going to be a key for us because of their athletic ability and quickness. I can pretty much guarantee you they outrebounded us."
That's not supposed to be an easy task with the Indians' frontcourt consisting of beefy seniors Spencer Goodman, Hunter Grantham and Antonio Garritano.
But Charleston seniors Brian Parham and Alan Hemphill and junior Donald Dixon paced the Bluejays down low with 40 combined points.
"We wanted to push it inside because we weren't hitting the outside shot," said Charleston coach Danny Farmer, whose team is replacing most of its starters from last year's Class 3 state championship team. "We had to try the high-percentage shots, but we didn't realize we could do that. Brian played a super game inside."
Senior guard Antonio Riggens added 11 and turned up the heat on Jackson's guards down the stretch.
Charleston pulled away from a 58-56 lead with 2 minutes to play by forcing a missed shot and two turnovers on Jackson's next three possessions.
The Indians had an opportunity to deliver the knockout blow in the third period when they led by as much as 43-35.
After Charleston had taken a two-point lead in the first quarter, then Jackson took a two-point halftime lead with a late rally, the Indians used the free-throw line to take control.
They made 6-of-8 free throws in the first four minutes of the third and held a 6-0 advantage in fouls at one point.
Matt Lang hit a 3-pointer for a 41-35 and was fouled but his missed his chance to convert. After Lang hit another jumper for a 43-35 lead with about three minutes to go in the half, Charleston charged back with a 10-0 run. Dixon and Riggens hit 3-pointers in the stretch and Charleston led 45-44 heading to the final period.
"I thought another key was when we had that lead in the third quarter and if we could have establish a couple of possessions," Scott said. "Riggens hit a big 3, and they made a couple of big plays.
"I don't know if we ever came back from that."
The Indians did hold a 49-48 lead on Leet's 3-pointer early in the final period, but Riggens scored on a steal, then in transition off an outlet pass for a 54-49 lead with 3:33 to play. He later fed Parham for a pretty basket that gave Charleston the 60-56 lead with about a minute to go and poked the ball from a Jackson guard and into the hands of teammate Jerquawn Sherrell, who ended up with two free throws for the final score.
"I thought their guards handled the pressure well," Farmer said, "but right there at the end I think they got kind of tired."
Jackson (4-2) was led by Goodman's 13 points. Grantham and Lang added 12 each, while Leet scored 11.
Each team hit three 3s and shot 19 free throws, with Charleston making 14 and Jackson 11.
"There were a lot of good things," Scott said, "and a lot of things we need to work on."
SEMO Conference championship
Charleston 63, Jackson 56
Charleston 18 12 15 18 -- 63
Jackson 16 16 12 12 -- 56
Charleston (63) -- Antonio Riggens 11, Terrell Smith 7, Marquez Ware 1, Jerquawn Sherrell 2, Alan Hemphill 6, Donald Dixon 18, Deonte Jones 2, Brian Parham 16. FG 23, FT 14-19, F 16 (3-pointers: Riggens 1, Smith 1, Dixon 1. Fouled out: none)
Jackson (56) -- Spencer Goodman 13, Matt Lang 12, Jacob Leet 4, Hunter Grantham 12, Antonio Garritano 4. FG 21, FT 11-19, F 17.