It’s really a privilege to be able to cover the Charleston Blue Jays basketball program for as many years as I have…Missouri Hall of Fame Coach Danny Farmer is as press friendly as they get; and legendary former coach Lennies McFerren always knew how to make a young sportswriter comfortable.
Last year, however, was my first time to go the Final Four. Replete with credentials first class and a hotel room with the kids in hand, I chronicled the exciting third pace finish in a special section. And, the Jays were a free throw away from making the championship game.
This season Charleston is loaded for Bear. A strong schedule that will put L’s on the ledger, but as usual the strength gained and experience gathered on the floor will make another run to a title opportunity an achievable goal of this year’s edition.
Though Gregory Tucker – an early signee with Northern Colorado gets a lot of attention, and deservedly so – the Blue Jays are especially deep and experienced. Admittedly, there’s no guarantee Charleston escapes the state’s toughest District, but that is the expectation and anything less than a 20th trip to Columbia will be a disappointment.
Rack that up to expectations, yes and deservedly so; but well-earned.
Check this: 10 Missouri State Championships…4 Second Place finishes; 3 Third Place and 2 Fourth Place.
*Before we preview the 2011-12 edition, let’s take a quick glance back at last season. A scintillating and exciting weekend of hoops resulting in some more hardware for the stocked trophy case.
In the consolation game, Charleston came out flat after suffering the heartbreaking 86-79 OT loss to eventual state champ Hogan Prep. In that semifinal game, the Jays were a free-throw away from icing the game.
The Jays came out flat in the third place game trailing by 22 at intermission; fell behind by 24 to start the second half then but went on a record-setting tear to overwhelm a outstanding and astonished Elsberry 87-79.
Charleston owns the mark now for most points scored in a fourth quarter with the 38-point show out surpassing Riverview Garden’s 1992 record; and equaled esteemed Scott County Central points for a half with a 64-point output.
So, we enter 2011-12 with a baseball team coming off its first ever Final Four under coach Michael Minner; Brett Blackman’s football Blue Jays just come off a playoff experience. It’s up to the history laden basketball team to keep the streak going….
Any takers?….Thought not.
Full preview forthcoming before Friday’s matchup with Pine bluff, Ark. River Bend Classic at New Madrid County Central. The Jays play perennial Ark. power West Memphis Saturday.
For complete Charleston schedule.
*Farmer quotes*….endeavoring to reach Coach Farmer; which I do at his home phone; as I have done for years. When I was the Sports Editor of the Daily Dunklin Democrat in Kennett in the late 80’s ; I incorporated all the small schools in the area to be a part of the coverage, but needed to phone the coaches at home – (back in those days folks, remember, there were no such things as cell phones) so I got to know families; sons, wives and have great memories of time served there at the award-winning paper.
And to end this story, a quote from Charleston KCHR Radio man – and a lot more – Dave Manker, prior to the Blue Jays making their nearly seemingly annual trek to Columbia last year. ….*March 17, 2011 via Dave Manker!! Facebook post…. Dave also has just announced this is his last season as the play-by-play man. Job Well Done, sir…Kp
….For the 19th time, Charleston ‘s High School basketball team, the Blue Jays, left for Columbia to compete in the Final Four . Ten state champion banners hang in the gym. Ponder on this…Since 1967, 28 district titles. A 72-19 won/loss record in state playoff games, 19 trips to the Final 4 coming into this season. 10 state championships, 4 second place finishes, 2 third and 2 fourth. Hall of Fame season in 1990 (33-0)….go Blue Jays, bring us home another banner.
I think what Dave just said sums up what the Blue Jay Nation feels about their basketball team.