No. 4 Charleston pulls off big comeback over No. 5 Cape Central in SEMO Conference boys basketball tournament

Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Charleston's Demarcus Sharp drives to the basket against Cape Central in the SEMO Conference Tournament on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, at the Sikeston Field House.

SIKESTON, Mo. -- A year after making their fifth trip to the SEMO Conference Tournament finals, the Charleston Blue Jays looked on the verge of a first round exit, as fifth-seeded Cape Girardeau Central had the No. 4 Blue Jays on the ropes late in the first half Tuesday, holding as much as a 17-point lead.

Seven second-half 3s helped Charleston chip away at its deficit until the Jays seized their first lead of the game in the final two minutes. They held on for a 67-66 win and a berth in the tournament semifinals against Sikeston on Thursday.

"Those type of wins develop character," Charleston coach Danny Farmer said. "We didn't quit and I think it's because we've been in dog fights. That's what the Liberty Tech's, the Covingtons and those type teams do for us. It let's us know it's not over until it's over. We play for 32 minutes and the kids understood that."

Charleston's Latrell Porter has the ball knocked away by Cape Central's Zyshon Mallory in the SEMO Conference Tournament on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, at the Sikeston Field House.

Though they're undefeated, poor shooting has been a consistent problem through the Blue Jays' early schedule.

Tuesday was no different and the Tigers (3-1) capitalized, pulling out to a game-high 31-14 lead with 2:29 left in the second quarter.

A slight rally had Charleston (5-0) within 12 points going into halftime, 37-25, and by the fourth quarter the deficit had been cut to single digits, 53-44.

Open shots beyond the arc played a big part in Charleston slowly swinging the momentum, including four in the third quarter alone.

"We don't shoot the ball very well and we didn't shoot it very well in the first half," Farmer said. "We came out the second half and shot it better. We didn't want to turn the ball over and the only time we wanted to throw the ball inside was on a pick-and-roll to Mardareyon Clark. I knew they were looking for him so it's going to leave our 3-point shooters open."

Charleston added another three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to make it seven in the half and 10 for the night.

That last 3, from Jeremy Tucker late in the fourth, made it a one-point game before a Demarcus Sharp layup with 1:50 to play knotted the game at 63.

Sharp followed up with a pair of free throws with 1:21 remaining to give Charleston it's first lead of the night, 65-64.

Central had several chances to retake the lead, but saw missed opportunities continue to stack up.

Charleston's Mardareyon Clark tries to dribble around Cape Central's Kinyon Hodges in the SEMO Conference Tournament on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, at the Sikeston Field House.

The Tigers missed all four free throws on their next two possessions, followed by another missed shot rebounded by the Blue Jays.

"A lot of that is being in tight games," Central coach Drew Church said. "You practice free throws in practice and there's not all that pressure. There's a combination of fatigue and guys not being in that situation [before]. We have to learn from that."

Sharp hit a layup on a pass to the paint, giving him six straight points, to make it 67-64 with 12 seconds on the clock.

A Central timeout soon after gave the Tigers the ball with 8 seconds to work with and a chance to tie the game.

The one thing the Blue Jays didn't want to see happen is exactly what transpired coming out of the break.

Rather than foul on the inbounds or give up an uncontested layup in a three-point game, Charleston watched the Central's Kinyon Moore drive to the basket and collect a foul from Terridean Bogan as his layup fell through.

The ensuing free-throw attempt gave Central a shot to tie the game.

"We put a freshman in the game in Bogan," Farmer said. "We tell him we're three points up and if they get a layup, let them shoot it. [Instead] that freshman wanted to try and knock the ball away. But he made a key pass [earlier] to give us a three point lead and that's why I put him in. That's his strong point -- he's an excellent passer."

Hodges game-tying free-throw attempt came with 4.9 seconds to play and was off the mark. Central collected the rebound and put up back to back shots, both of which were off the mark to seal Charleston's come-from-behind win.

"With eight seconds you have a chance for a quick shot," Church said of his team's last series. "We gave him an option for a handoff 3 or, if it's open, get to the rim quick and [Hodges] did a good job of doing that. We just couldn't capitalize."

Charleston celebrates after rallying to defeat Cape Central in the SEMO Conference Tournament on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, at the Sikeston Field House.

When looking back at what could have been, the Tigers will no doubt start with late troubles at the free-throw line in what ended up being a one-point game.

Hodges' final miss at the end left the Tigers hitting only two of their final 11 attempts (18 percent), all coming in the final 3 minutes of the game.

Before that stretch the Tigers hit 20 of 25 (80 percent) of their shots from the charity stripe on the night.

Austin Parker led Central with 18 points on the night while Blake Harris was close behind with 16. Hodges and Zyshon Mallory contributed 12 and 10 respectively.

For Charleston, Tucker's game-high 19 points came on 7-of-8 (88 percent) shooting effort. He was 4 of 5 from 3-point range.

Sharp's finish left him with 18 points to go with a team-high 11 rebounds and six assists. Jaquavis Rodgers scored 13 points to go with four rebounds and seven assists.

As a team, the Blue Jays shot 24 of 55 (44 percent) from the floor and 10 of 25 (40 percent) from behind the arc.

"That's the third one we've played like that so we've got accustomed to that," Farmer said of the finish. "We're getting a little bit of everything and building a lot of character in the first five games."

Charleston will face top-seeded Sikeston on Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Sikeston Field House in a semifinal.

Central moves to the consolation bracket, where it will face New Madrid County Central today at 5:30 p.m., also at the Sikeston Field House.

Cape Central16211613--66

CAPE CENTRAL (66) -- Zyshon Mallory 10, Jawone Newell 5, Austin Parker 18, Blake Harris 16, Kinyon Hodges 12, Kway'Chon Chisom 3. FG 22, FT 22-36, F 18. (3-pointers: None. Fouled out: Newell.)

CHARLESTON (67) -- Jaquavis Rodgers 13, Samuel Bledsoe 3, Latrell Porter 6, Demarcus Sharp 18, Mardareyon Clark 6, Jeremy Tucker 19, Delontre Fisher 2. FG 24, FT 9-16, F 23. (3-pointers: Tucker 4, Rodgers 2, Porter 2, Sharp 2, Bledsoe. Fouled out: Rodgers, Porter.)

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