By Mike Monahan

TEUTOPOLIS – Charleston used a strong second half defense and rebounded better to erase a 13-point deficit and top Dixon, 60-55 in the Effingham/Teutopolis Christmas Classic. 

Charleston (4-8) next plays Mattoon (3-12) today at Effingham High.

“We looked Wednesday at some of the records of the teams we were playing so we did know they (Dixon) were 8-3,” said Charleston’s Luke Bonnstetter, who was 4-of-5 on 3-pointers and had a team-high 14 points. “It was a big win, especially in this tournament. We came from behind and that just proves that we are a good team. When we play our best, we can compete with a lot of good teams.”

Here is a recap.

Lutheran North 77, Charleston 62

Charleston fell behind 22-9 after the first quarter and trailed at the half 42-30. The Trojans made it an 11-point deficit heading into the final quarter, 59-48 before losing by 15. 

Both teams shot well. CHS was 24-of-50 from the field, including 9-of-24 on 3-pointers and the Crusaders of St. Louis were 30-of-59, including 6-20 on 3s. 

Charleston made only five of 12 FTs. They did have the rebound advantage 26-21. 

Charleston had four players score in double digits. Will Applegate led the way with 16 points, hitting 4-of-6 3s. Caleb Oakley had 14, while James Hess had 13 and Luke Bonstetter had 11. 

Lutheran North (8-4) was led by 6-4 junior Bryce Spiller with 30 points, hitting 12-of-22 (545) from the field. 

Charleston 60, Dixon 53

The Trojans took just their second lead of the game on a three-point play by Will Applegate for an 11-10 advantage. 

However, Dixon scored 12 unanswered points starting with a 3-pointer by Wyatt Wetzel, who led the Dukes with 14 points. Darius Harrington ended the opening quarter with a 12-footer.  Harrington’s basket with 4:46 left in the half made it 22-12 before James Hess ended the run with a pair of free throws. Matthew Warkins ended the scoring in the half with a putback with just under a minute left for a 29-19 lead for Dixon. 

“We tried to get them off guard a little bit,” said Charleston coach A.J. Alexander. “We tried to run a little 1-2-2 and a 2-3 every now and then just to try and give them different looks and be unpredictable in some ways. In some ways it can hurt us. They had some guys step up and hit some 3-pointers to start the game. Once we made that full adjustment to man-to-man defense and kind of tweaked it a little bit by halftime when I just talked about emphasizing  our ball pressure more. That kind of paid off and got us going.”

Said Bonnsteter: “We played pretty sloppily in the first half. We didn’t really play our brand of basketball and we were just saying (at half) we need to find our roots and simplify and get back to where we need to be.”

Charleston trailed by 13 with 4:39 left in the third when Bonnstettter nailed not one, but two 3-pointers and Caleb Oakley hit one as well. Within 1:30 it was down to a four-point game. 

It looked like CHS would be down just three heading into the fourth, but Dixon’s Cullen Shaner sank a half-court shot at the buzzer to give them a 44-38 advantage. 

Charleston, who was 7-8 in the final 8:03, outscored the Dukes 18-5 in the last 5:19 starting with a 3-pointer by Bonnstetter to make it a two-point deficit. Dixon’s Wetzell answered with a 3-pointer of his own for a 55-50 advantage with 3:18 left. 

Tyler Oakley made a 3-pointer, James Hess scored on a feed from Tyler Oakley and the Trojans took the lead for good on two free throws by Caleb Oakley. 

Dixon was 6-of-16 (.375)  from the field in the final 10:11 after making 12-of-22 (.545) until then. 

“One of the first things we talked about at halftime was rebounding,” said Alexander. “We have got to have someone ready to step up and I told the guys the low man wins in boxing out and rebounding. It doesn’t matter if you can jump higher. Use your body and drive them out and go up and get it. Find the man first and then go get the ball. Sometimes you just get in the habit of turning and looking right away. That is for teams that crash the boards well like Dixon did (Dixon led 21-12 in rebounds at the half). They got some second chance points after that. I am glad we came out ready to board in the second half and it was good to see.”

Applegate had 13 points, Hess 11, and Caleb Oakley 10, while Hess led in rebounds for the Trojans with seven. 

“We will take that- a big plus playing in a nice gym,” said Alexander. “The nice thing about this tournament is you play good competition, but at the same time you are not sitting back dwelling on mistakes you just come back ready to play the next one. It was great to see our guys come come out and play and a nice close game too. I am proud of our guys. It was a good feeling after two overtime losses (Newton and Effingham St. Anthony in regular season) We battled back, clawed back and we got it. It was a great accomplishment for our guys. I always say players win close games, coaches lose them. They put it all together and were strong and effective and that was awesome.”

Lutheran North: 22-20-17-18–77

Charleston: 9-21-18-14–62

LUTHERAN NORTH: Ike Prude 1 0-0 2, Bryce Spiller 12 5-9 30, Jameer Cretter 3 3-4 9, Izy Prude 3 3-5 11, Berry Benson 0 0-0 0, Davell Long 8 1-1 19, Jai Smith 0 0-0 0, AJ Newton 3 0-0 6, Marquis Coleman 0 0-0 0, Totals 30 11-16 77

3-point goals: 6-20 .300 (Spiller 1-4, Cretter 0-3, Izy Prude 3-5, Benson 0-2, Long 2-4, Smith 0-2). Rebounds 21 (Benson, Ike Prude 4) Total field goals: 30-59 (.508). 

CHARLESTON: Cam Dunkin 0 0-0 0, Brett Spour 1 0-0 2, Luke Bonnstetter 4 0-0 11, Josh Sipes 0 0-0 0, Will Applegate 6 0-0 16, Langdon King 1 1-2 3, James Hess 5 3-5 13,Tyler Oakley 1 0-0 3,  Caleb Oakley 6 1-4 14, Totals 24 5-12 62. 

3-point goals: 9-24 .375 (Spour 0-1, Bonnstetter 3-10, Sipes 0-1, Applegate 4-6, T. Oakley 1-1, Hess 0-1, C. Oakley 1-4). Rebounds 26 (Hess, Spour 7). Total field goals: 24-50 .480

Charleston: 11-8-19-22–60

Dixon: 15-14-15-11–55

CHARLESTON: Spour 1 1-2 3, Bonnstetter 5 0-0 14, Applegate 5 2-2 12, King 2 2-3 6, T. Oakley 1 0-0 3, Hess 2 7-9 11, C Oakley 2 4-4 10, Totals 18 16-20 60. 

3-point goals: 8-14 .571 (Bonnstetter 4-5, Applegate 1-2, T. Oakley 1-2, C. Oakley 2-5). Rebounds 27 (Hess 7). Total field goals 18-38 .474. Turnovers 15

DIXON: Grant Boss 1 0-0 2, Wyatt Wetzell 5 0-0 15, Cullen Shaner 2 0-0 6, Mason Weigle 1 0-0 2, Bryce Felt 1 0-0 2, Austin Hicks 2 2-2 7, Darius Harrington 6 1-3 14, Matthew Warkins 3 1-2 7, Totals 21 4-7 55

3-point goals: 9-21 .429 (Wetzell 5-6, Shanner 2-7, Felt 0-1, Hicks 1-4, Harrington 1-2, Warkins 0-1). Rebounds 23 (Harrington 4). Total field goals 21-48 (.438). Turnovers 11