Caruthersville snares rare win at Charleston
CHARLESTON, Mo. -- Winning on Charleston's home floor is hard for any team. But nabbing a win at "The Factory" has been nearly impossible for Caruthersville.
In fact, it's been rare for the Tigers to get any win over Charleston for the last 15 years.
But on Tuesday, Caruthersville erased nearly a generations worth of road losses to Charleston with an 83-76 shocker at Charleston High School. It's the Tigers' first win at Charleston since Feb. 23, 2001, and their first win against Charleston since Dec. 17, 2004.
"This is huge," Caruthersville coach Lamonte Bell said. "To come to Charleston, to the 'Nest,' and get a win against Charleston it's real big for us. It's huge for our confidence."
Caruthersville was led by junior Lamonte Bell, who scored a game-high 24 points on 10 of 16 shooting. He also went 3 of 9 from 3-point range. Senior Tyrone Alston scored 18 points and junior Tallon Fonda came off the bench to add 17 on 7 of 10 shooting, including 3 of 5 from behind the arc, and six rebounds.
The Tigers (9-6) broke a string of 15 straight losses to Charleston and, until Tuesday, had been on the losing end of 21 of their last 23 games against one of Class 3's most dominant entities.
"I don't know if they play like that all the time, but I really thought they played great," Charleston coach Danny Farmer said. "They shot it well, made free throws at the right time and played hard. I knew they was athletic, but I didn't realize they're as skilled as they were. What I saw was a very good team from Caruthersville."
The Tigers grabbed a lead in the second quarter and never relinquished, although they were hounded by Charleston the rest of the way.
The Bluejays never got closer than when Tenerrious Ewing, who, along with Demarcus Sharp, finished with 16 points, nailed a three with 1:20 remaining to trim their deficit to 77-76.
Alston, who was trusted to keep possession of the ball when things got tighter in the fourth quarter, drove to the basket and was fouled immediately after Ewing's three. Alston hit both free throws to push Caruthersville's lead back out to three.
"I told (Alston) he was my senior guard and seniors make big plays," Bell said. "I told him to get his team out of this gym tonight with a 'W.'"
After Alston's free throws, Ewing tried to tie the game with another shot from deep, but missed. Playing keep-a-way, the Tigers found a wide open Destin Russell under the basket who made it 81-76 with 24 ticks left.
Demarcus Sharp attempted to make it a one possession game again but his 3-pointer bounced off the rim with 12 seconds remaining. George Qualls hit two free throws to make up the final.
"For as well as they played for us to be as close as we were I was pleased with that," Farmer said. "We played until the end. We just needed a break here or a break there. If we could have hit the three there right there at the end with Tenerrious, he had a chance to tie it, we had a shot."
Charleston (11-8) shot slightly better than Caruthersville going 33 of 66 (50 percent) from the floor. The Tigers shot 45 percent (30 of 66) but were much better from long range. Caruthersville went 6 of 17 while Charleston shot 5 of 22 (23 percent).
"They put pressure on our shooters on the outside," Farmers said. "They're long, lanky and that's going to get to you when they check shots well. I think that had a lot to do with our shooting."
The Bluejays, who typically don't mind taking the outside shot, were, for the most part, forced to against a stingy Caruthersville defense.
"We wanted to put pressure on the arc," Bell said. "I was hoping to cut penetration off a little more, but they've got some players. I felt we made them work for everything they had."
Caruthersville's defensive tactic worked and what handcuffed Charleston even further was their presence on the glass. The Tigers out-rebounded Charleston 36-25 with Destin Russell pulling down 12 and Deandre Davis hauling in 10.
"They beat us on the boards," Farmer said. "We have to do a better job of boxing out and take rebounding more serious. Those second-chance shots did beat us."
Four lead changes and four ties brought the end of the first quarter to a 16-all tie. Caruthersville led by as much as 14 points in the second after a 16-4 run. But Charleston, who suffered through a stretch of just two made field goals in nearly five minutes time, closed out the first half with a 16-6 run to pull within four, 40-36, at halftime.
Fonda and Bell combined for 17 of Caruthersville's 24 points in the second quarter while shooting 7 of 8 from the floor.
As a team, Caruthersville shot 10 of 16 in the second quarter while Charleston went 8 of 17.
"Tallon Fonda came off the bench and hit some big three's for us," Bell said. "Lamonte Bell, Jr., hit some three's. Every time Charleston made a run we were about to counterpunch with a couple of big shots."
That trend continued in the third when Caruthersville, yet again, pushed its lead to double digits thanks in part to eight quick points by Bell. Caruthersville's advantage hung around a 10-point cushion until the two minute mark when the Bluejays rattled off a sudden 7-0 run.
Charleston trailed 61-57 going into the fourth.
"It's been a long time since Caruthersville has won in this gym," Bell said. "I think we prepared mentally for this. I told them that Charleston was full of runs and we're just blessed that we were able to maintain the runs and fight back."
After starting the season 4-6, the Tigers have put things together of late winning its last five. Of Caruthersville's six losses, two -- Malden and Senath-Hornersville -- are from Missouri teams.
"We've really been playing well the last few games," Bell said. "We're putting in a lot of shots daily in practice and I told them we'd have to make shots tonight. I thought we shot the ball more in rhythm than forcing shots. We were able to set our feet and make buckets."
Charleston has lost two of its last three after taking third in the Superman Classic over the weekend. The Bluejays will host SEMO Conference foe Kennett on Friday for its homecoming.
CARUTHERSVILLE (83) -- Tyrone Alston 18, George Qualls 6, Tallon Fonda 17, Destin Russell 8, Deandre Davis 10, Lamonte Bell 24. FG 30 FT 17-23 F 14. (3-pointers: Fonda 3, Bell 2. Fouled out: none.)
CHARLESTON (76) -- Dontarius Sharp 14, Kelvondre Moore 11, Demarcus Sharp 16, Mardareyon Clark 11, Jeremy Tucker 8, Tenerrious Ewing 16. FG 33 FT 5-9 F 15. (3-pointers: Do. Sharp 2, Moore 1, Ewing 2. Fouled out: none.)
JV -- Charleston won 59-53.
Follow Chris on twitter @semoballChris.