Bledsoe's game-winning three sends Charleston boys basketball team into SEMO Conference Tournament consolation final over Jackson
SIKESTON – If his main job is to shoot the three, then Samuel Bledsoe had a good day at the office.
After a scrum for a rebound bounced Charleston's way, the sophomore drained a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give the Charleston boys basketball team a 62-61 win over Jackson Wednesday night during a SEMO Conference Tournament consolation semifinal at the Sikeston Field House.
Bledsoe's heroics pushed second-seeded Charleston into the consolation championship game against No. 5 Poplar Bluff Friday at 5:30 p.m. The Mules took down New Madrid County Central 83-51 in the first semifinal of the night.
"The ball just bounced in the right guy's hands for us to win it," Charleston coach Danny Farmer said. "The thing about the game that I really, really feel good about, even if we lost, we played hard. The toughness was there. We have to be tough in that type of game."
Charleston (4-3) found themselves looking up at a 61-59 deficit after two free throws from Jackson's Gavin Harris. With nine seconds remaining, Charleston's Demarcus Sharp drove the lane for the tie, but his right-handed runner fell way short. Jackson's Grayson Ward and Charleston's Delontre Gillespie both went for the rebound, but the ball squirted away and bounced right into the hands of Bledsoe, who was exactly where he needed to be – behind the 3-point line.
Bledsoe's shot from the top of the key hit nothing but net and sent the Charleston faithful into a frenzy. It was Bledsoe's third three of the night on 3 of 6 shooting. All of his attempts, like Farmer wants, were from three.
"That's what he's out there for," Farmer said. "He knows what his job is. I try to encourage him not to pass it as much. He shoots it well and that's what we need him to do."
Sharp led Charleston with 23 points on 9 of 16 shooting while adding 11 rebounds and three steals. Gillespie and Jeremy Tucker each scored 12 for the Bluejays, who battled back from a 10-point deficit with 5:07 left to play.
"I thought Charleston played really well and got us down big early," Jackson coach Darrin Scott said. "That last play, sometimes it's not the first shot that beats you it's the second one."
Jackson (1-2) is eliminated from SEMO Conference Tournament play after taking two-straight losses to Charleston and Notre Dame. The latter was one of two quarterfinal upsets on Monday when the No. 6 Bulldogs defeated the third-seeded Indians 73-67.
Charleston's 59-54 loss to No. 7 Dexter was the other.
Pete Lake scored a team-high 19 points for Jackson while adding six rebounds. Gavin Harris scored 13, Desmond Morris added 11 points, five rebounds and two steals while 6-7 senior Cameron Hester added 10 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks.
"One thing we were happy about tonight was our effort. I thought that was much better," Scott said. "We you end up losing in the first round and have to play the two-seed still in the loser's bracket, we played a great team tonight. You would normally say if you went 0-2 in this tournament, you played horrible. But tonight, we did some good things and just wound up on the losing end."
Before Bledsoe's game-winner, both teams battled through a game of big runs.
Charleston fell behind 8-4 before they answered with an 18-0 run in the final three minutes of the frame to go ahead 22-8. The Bluejays forced Jackson into eight, first-quarter turnovers. Most of which during their run.
"We just wanted to go out and play our game," Farmer said. "Play like we were in practice, just go at each other. We were comfortable and playing our type of game."
Charleston went ahead by as much as 16 in the second quarter, but Jackson unleashed a run of their own to eventually retake the lead. Three-straight threes from Morris, Lake and Harris sparked a 20-1 run to put Jackson in control at 30-27.
"We scored a little bit more, got relaxed and were able to attack a little bit better," Scott said.
The Indians led 32-29 by halftime and extended that momentum into the third quarter, where they led by as much as 11 and took a 51-42 lead into the final period.
Charleston's comeback and Bledsoe's dagger eventually followed.
"We stuck it out and played tough all throughout the game," Farmer said. "We didn't quit and that's what we need all throughout the season. This is what these games do for us."
CHARLESTON (62) – Terridean Bogan 2, Samuel Bledsoe 9, Demarcus Sharp 23, Mardareyon Clark 2, Delontre Gillespie 12, Jeremy Tucker 12, Ke'Sean Griffin 2. FG 25 FT 5-8 F 17. (3-pointers: Bledsoe 3, Sharp 2, Tucker 2. Fouled out: none.)
JACKSON (61) – Desmond Morris 11, Gavin Harris 13, Pete Lake 19, Grayson Ward 2, Colton Seyer 2, Dalton Tollison 4, Cameron Hester 10. FG 21 FT 13-19 F 13. (3-pointers: Morris 3, Harris 1, Lake 2. Fouled out: none.)