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Charleston takes advantage of size during conference win over NMCC

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Charleston's Delontre Gillespie attempts a layup against New Madrid County Central in a boys basketball game Tuesday, January 20, 2017, at Charleston High School.
(Chris Pobst/Standard Democrat)
CHARLESTON, Mo. -- New Madrid County Central knew they were the smaller team heading into its SEMO Conference battle against Charleston. It's a distinction they've grown accustomed to by now.

The Bluejays were well aware of that, too.

Charleston did most of its damage in the paint and made a star out of 6-5 sophomore Delontre Gillespie during their 75-67 win over NMCC Tuesday at Charleston High School.

Charleston's Demarcus Sharp (24) attempts a shot against New Madrid County Central in a boys basketball game Tuesday, January 20, 2017, at Charleston High School.
(Chris Pobst/Standard Democrat)
Gillespie, formerly Fisher, scored a career-high 20 points and pulled down 12 rebounds while adding two blocks and two steals for the Bluejays, who moved to 12-2 on the year and 3-1 in the SEMO Conference.

Junior Demarcus Sharp was as his last name suggests from downtown, hitting all four of his 3-point attempts and scoring 18 points on 6 of 10 shooting. Mardareyon Clark, a 6-4 junior and Charleston's leading scorer, battled foul trouble but still managed 16 points on 5 of 9 shooting and five rebounds.

"We beat them because we're taller, got the ball inside and got most of our points inside," Charleston coach Danny Farmer said. "We knew we had the advantage inside. We kind of thought it would be Mardareyon but it ended up being Delontre. Mardareyon got into foul trouble and we played good without him."

NMCC couldn't find a way to buck its recent slump even behind a game-high 24 points from Javarcus Word. Word shot 9 of 17, had four steals and was the only thing keeping a 15-point deficit at halftime from growing larger before the rest of his squad helped mount a comeback in the second half.

New Madrid County Central's Palmer Campbell (left) makes a pass against Charleston in a boys basketball game Tuesday, January 20, 2017, at Charleston High School.
(Chris Pobst/Standard Democrat)
Palmer Campbell scored 12 of his 16 in the last two quarters on 6 of 12 shooting, including 3 of 6 from 3-point range for NMCC, who lost its sixth-straight game.

"The frustrating part is every game has been like this," NMCC coach Travis Day said about his team's losing skid. "We're right there, we're battling, but we're just not getting over the hump right now."

Behind Gillespie's dominance inside, the Bluejays shot out to a 12-point lead by the end of the first quarter. He scored his team's first two buckets to give them a 4-3 edge and Charleston never trailed again.

NMCC had no answer for Charleston's size advantage. Its tallest player, 6-3 Jaurous Haynes, was held scoreless while battling foul trouble as well.

"We're not big so everybody's going to attack the paint on us," Day said. "But we battled. We did all we could do."

The Bluejays ended the first quarter on an 18-5 run while NMCC managed just two field goals in the last seven minutes of the frame.

Gillespie had 10 points and eight rebounds by halftime.

"[Delontre] played the best game of his career tonight," Farmer said. "That's what he should be doing because he's so much taller than everybody else, but the effort was there. He was aggressive offensively and we've been working on him rebounding better and it showed tonight. Super job by Delontre."

Sharp found a way to do damage from the outside hitting all four of his 3-pointers in the first two quarters for 14 points at the half.

Word did his best to counteract Charleston's tandem with eight points in the second quarter. He scored back to back buckets for NMCC to cut their deficit to nine with 2:19 to play in the frame.

Like he's known to do, the 5-8 Word sped past and found his way to the basket through much of what Charleston's bigger bodies had to offer. Word scored over half of NMCC's points by the break with 13.

Charleston answered with a 8-3 run to end the quarter, which included five-straight from Sharp. The Bluejays led 39-24 at halftime.

New Madrid County Central's Johnny Walker (12) loses a handle on a rebound behind Charleston's Delontre Gillespie in a boys basketball game Tuesday, January 20, 2017, at Charleston High School.
(Chris Pobst/Standard Democrat)
NMCC (7-9, 1-2 conference) outscored Charleston by seven in the second half after getting more production from someone other than Word.

"Everybody's got to contribute something," Day said. "We're not that team where one guy can get us over the top. We've got to have almost everybody out there contribute in some way offensively."

They cut Charleston's advantage to 12 by the end of the third quarter and got as close as seven with 1:38 remaining in the fourth.

Two free throws from Samuel Bledsoe, who finished with 12 points and shot 6 for 6 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter, pushed Charleston ahead by 11 with 55 seconds remaining.

NMCC kept attacking Charleston's lead and eventually cut it to 73-67 after a bucket from Campbell, but that score came with 10 seconds left.

Needing to stop the clock for a chance at the upset, NMCC sent Charleston to the line 13 times in the fourth quarter hitting eight. The Bluejays finished 20-30 from the free throw line.

"We made free throws and that's what you have to do at this time of the season," Farmer said. "Teams are going to bring their best at us. We knew that coming into the game. We just have to keep getting smarter and it doesn't hurt to get this type of game. It will only make you better.

Charleston shot 47 percent (24 for 51) from the floor and had 23 turnovers.

NMCC shot 45 percent (26 of 58) from the floor and had 17 turnovers.

The Bluejays out-rebounded NMCC 34-21.

"They're a good team," Day said about Charleston. "They bent but they never broke. We got back in the game, gave ourselves opportunities but every time we had a chance to get closer we'd turn it over or they'd get a big bucket. That's what good teams do."

Charleston will travel to Scott County Central while NMCC continues its conference schedule against Cape Central on the road this Friday.


NMCC (67) -- Palmer Campbell 16, Johnny Walker 7, Craig Beasley 3, Javarcus Word 24, Eddie Grandberry 7, Ronnie King 4, Thailin Marsh 6. FG 26 FT 10-16 F 25. (3-pointers: Campbell 3, Beasley 1, Word 1. Fouled out: none.)

CHARLESTON (75) -- Jaquavis Rodgers 1, Samuel Bledsoe 12, Demarcus Sharp 18, Mardareyon Clark 16, Jeremy Tucker 7, Isaiah Gillespie 1, Delontre Gillespie 20. FG 24 FT 20-30 F 18. (3-pointers: Bledsoe 2, Sharp 4, Clark 1. Fouled out: Clark.)