In a classic high school basketball game that featured a hard-fought battle between two good teams, the Charleston Tigers, led by Brandon Scott’s 16 for 16 free throws in the second half, defeated the #2 seed Cedarville Pirates by a score of 58-51. Charleston advances to the district tournament final at Waldron to play the Bulldogs for the conference tournament championship. Waldron defeated Booneville by the lopsided score of 77-44 in the tournament’s other semifinal game played on Thursday.
Before a large crowd in Cedarville, the atmosphere was electric as the teams warmed-up to start the game. Even during the playing of a terrific rendition of the National Anthem, fans could feel the excitement in the air before the two teams tipped-off. And with all of the build-up, the game certainly didn’t disappoint. From the start, the game produced great action with both teams leaving everything they had on the floor.
In the first quarter, Charleston came out fast and built an early lead with good outside shooting and occasional break aways to the basket. The Tigers built an early 15-6 lead, but Cedarville came charging back and closed the gap to 15-10 by the end of the first quarter.
As play resumed in the second quarter, Charleston received a scare when its star sophomore point guard, Brandon Scott, left the game at the 7:10 mark in the quarter with what appeared to be a lower leg or ankle injury. Scott remained on the bench for a very short time before he re-entered the game. As the game played on, Scott seemed to suffer no effects from whatever happened in the second quarter.
The Tigers maintained a four point lead until the final 45 seconds of the half. Cedarville went into a delay offense and ran the final time off of the clock, culminating with a clutch three point shot from the corner to end the half with the Pirates now trailing by just one point, 24-23. It had been a great half of basketball, and there was more to come in the second half.
As play resumed in the third quarter, the two teams went back-and-forth, playing hard, pressure defense, and scoring on seemingly every possession. Resembling a heavy weight fight, both teams exchanged “punches” and the fans in attendance were being treated to an exciting high school basketball game. At the end of the quarter, Charleston led the Pirates by a score of 38-37.
The fourth quarter saw the Tigers take control of the game by putting the ball in the hands of Brandon Scott and becoming much more deliberate on offense. On several offensive possessions, the Pirates played hard-nosed, one-on-one defense against Scott, and the crowd was treated to intense battles on each trip down the floor. Charleston was starting to run the clock down, forcing the Pirates to foul Scott. Scott responded by hitting every free throw for the Tigers and iced the game for Charleston. It was a stellar performance by Scott who carried the possessions in the fourth quarter and still had the stamina and concentration to hit all of his free throws. Scott is a sophomore who, as a ninth grader, hit a “coast-to-coast” drive and pull-up three-pointer at the buzzer to defeat Elkins by one point a year ago. He is an outstanding talent and has a very bright future in both football and basketball.
The final score was Charleston defeating Cedarville, 58-51. The final score was in no way indicative of the closeness of the game. It was a hard-fought battle played well by both teams. Both teams will advance to next week’s regional tournament, and both should do well in the regionals. Cedarville is a very good basketball team and I expect them to advance to the state tournament after regional play. Charleston is a very young team with a high ceiling, and Tigers fans can see them growing and developing with each game. It is exciting to see a team improve the way Charleston is under their coach, B. J. Ross. I expect the Tigers to advance to the state tournament from the regionals, as well.
After the game, a very proud Charleston coach, B. J. Ross, praised his team. “I thought we played extremely hard and matched their physical play. Obviously, Brandon Scott had a great game, but our guys did the little things that don’t show up on a stat sheet to get the victory.” The victory over a very good Cedarville team was a milestone in the Tigers development and could be a significant turning point when fans look back at the success of this team now and over the next two years.
Game time for Saturday’s conference final in Waldron is 6 p.m. The Bulldogs are clearly the best team in the league, and it will take a big effort from Charleston to upset the Bulldogs. But, as we see every year, it is why we play the games. Anything can happen, and one thing for sure, Charleston will show up Saturday and give it their all. That is what Charleston teams do, and that is why Charleston has a championship pedigree.
Resident Press will be in Waldron to bring you all of the action of the 3A-4 boys championship final. Watch for the story in Sunday afternoon’s online edition of Resident Press. Additional photos of the Tigers’ game at Cedarville can be found on Facebook at Charleston Tigers Sports.
It is the most wonderful time of the year! March madness is here, and the high school version is in full swing! Enjoy the great basketball action, and Resident Press will see you Saturday in Waldron!