Top-seeded Bluejays roll into semifinals

Friday, December 28, 2007
Oran's Klayton Kyle set a screen for teammate Cody Romas to drive past Charleston's Mackenzie Ivy during their quarterfinal game Thursday. (AARON

Charleston pushed aside No. 8 seed Oran76-45 on Thursday.

Charleston's Donald Dixon is tired of earning the top seed in the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament each year with his Bluejays team and then not winning the championship.

His teammates are, too.

"I want it real bad," Dixon said. "We've been working hard for it. We're going to continue to play hard because we really want this tournament."

Dixon netted 30 points in a 76-45 quarterfinal win over No. 8 Oran at the Show Me Center on Thursday.

The victory puts the top-seeded Blue Jays into the semifinals where they will play No. 5 seed Notre Dame today at 6 p.m.

Charleston has won the tournament 15 times. Yet despite receiving the top seed the past five years, it has not appeared in the title game in four years.

Charleston lost to Bell City last season, which ended with the Bluejays winning the Class 3 state title.

The eager Dixon played especially strong early on, pouring in 26 first-half points.

The 6-foot-2 junior led the Bluejays, which lost eight seniors from last year's team, on an 8-0 run just 2 minutes and 10 seconds into the game, scoring the first two baskets of the contest on layups.

"He's so quick off the floor he can really get in the air and can penetrate," Oran's Kody Campbell said of Dixon. "He can just all-around handle the ball. He can shoot. He can get in the lane."

Dixon extended the Charleston lead to 12 points at 14-2 when he made a steal and then dribbled in for a slam dunk with 5:04 remaining in the first. He said the dunk was the third of his high school career.

"It felt good," Dixon said about slamming it. "The win [feels better.]"

Oran did stay close for a while with the help of Campbell. He netted 21 points -- eight of which came in the first quarter. His effort helped the Eagles back within nine points at 21-12 by the close of the first period.

"You just got to shot fake," Campbell said about his success shooting. "They like to block shots, and I was a little bigger than the guys guarding me most of the game. So if I could catch it down low, I felt like I could score on a halfway consistent basis."

Despite Campbell's effort, Charleston broke it open in the second quarter, outscoring the Eagles 25-12 to take a 46-24 halftime lead.

Dixon scored 14 points in the period, including stepping out and nailing a 3-pointer with 1:33 left in the second quarter.

"He's a scorer," Charleston coach Danny Farmer said of Dixon. "He's good with the ball in his hands. He can penetrate and can shoot the [3-pointer]."

Charleston senior Brian Parham added 13 points.

Both Dixon and Parham pressed hard on defense, forcing turnovers and allowing their team fast-break opportunities.

"They are so athletic and so quick," Campbell said. "Every time you try to make a move, they seemed like they were a step ahead of us."

Farmer added about his defense: "I hold emphasis on our defense. We practice defense all the time. That's all we talk about. It's our main emphasis on our team."

Can Charleston be beat?

Campbell said one possible way of slowing the Bluejays down in this tournament is to force them to take 3-point shots and not allow them to get to the basket.

"You've got to try to make them beat you from the perimeter," Campbell said. "They shot well tonight, but more times than not they are going to beat you down low with their size. If you can make them shoot from the 3-point line, you at least have a chance."

Campbell also said Antonio Riggens causes a lot of problems up front. Riggens had a strong game with nine assists and six steals.



CHARLESTON (76) --- Antonio Riggens 13, Mackenzie Ivy 5, Marquez Ware 3, Jerquawn Sherrell 6, Allen Hemphill 2, Deonte Jones 2, Fred Pratt 2, Donald Dixon 30, Brian Parham 13. FG 34, FT 4-13, F 18 (3-pointers: Riggens 3, Dixon 1. Fouled out: none.)

ORAN (45) -- Cody W. Dirnberger 3, Kurt Rendleman 7, Cody Romas 6, Tyler Beardslee 2, Kody Campbell 21, Jake Kluesner 2, Lance Dannenmueller 4. FG 17, FT 10-21, F 10 (3-pointers: Campbell 1. Fouled out: none)

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