Lady 'Dogs hang tough with traditional power
SIKESTON -- Sikeston's girls basketball team had one of its best showings ever against traditionally strong Jackson on Monday night, losing 66-45 in a game much closer than the final score indicates.
Sikeston played a near-perfect first half, and trailed just 48-42 heading into the final quarter. But Jackson (13-8) ended the game on an 18-2 run to turn the close game into a blowout.
"I thought we had a real valiant effort," said Sikeston coach Lee Brooks. "We just wanted to prove we could play with this team. In the first half, we got the shots we wanted and were able to hit them. In the second we were one-and-done, and you just can't do that against a good team like this. We played hard and got some good minutes. I'm not disappointed about what we did. Anytime you can play the kind of half we did against this team, you have to feel good about it. I don't think I've ever played Jackson within 30 points."
Sikeston (12-7) was red-hot in the first half, hitting nearly every shot. The Lady Bulldogs busted three 3-pointers in the first quarter, but Jackson took advantage of six turnovers for easy transition baskets and grabbed a 23-15 lead.
The Lady Bulldogs exploded in the second frame, outscoring Jackson 14-6 to knot the score 29-29 at halftime.
"Sikeston shot the ball really well," said Cook. "We didn't do a good job of blocking off at times tonight, but there are no excuses from us. Sikeston played a pretty good ballgame. I'm satisfied with the win, but I feel like we should've tightened it up on defense more. (Sikeston) got the ball inside too easy. It was a ballgame until the last seven minutes, when we hit some shots and pulled away. You've got to give (Sikeston) credit, they work really hard."
The third quarter belonged to Jackson standout Jenna Leet, who hit three treys as the lead increased to 13 points.
Sikeston's Jennifer Medlin countered with a 3-pointer, then Stephanie Clark hit two runners in the lane to shave Jackson's advantage down to 48-42 heading into the final period.
"In the second half, we weren't as patient as we should've been," said Brooks. "And give Jackson credit -- they did a good job of finding (Leet). She was in the same corner every time, and we just couldn't find her. She's a good player."
Sikeston's offense was a no-show in the fourth quarter, scoring just three free throws.
"The law of averages work out for you on those shots," said Cook. "If you hit a large percentage of threes, it's going to balance itself out. We put a little bit more pressure on them too, and didn't let them sit and shoot in the fourth quarter."
Jackson put up 18 points, led by Leet and center Whitney Werner. Leet finished with five 3-pointers and led all scorers with 25 points overall.
"(Leet) shot the ball well after the first quarter," said Cook. "If she gives herself time and squares up, she hits it. Sometimes she gets in too big of a hurry."
Joy Daniel led Sikeston with 10 points, followed by Jennifer Medlin with nine and Ashley Johnson with seven.
"This is a destiny-kind of team," said Brooks. "They just want to play, and they give you everything they've got every night. If we start doing a few things fundamentally right, this is going to be one heck of a team."
Jackson will host Cape Central on Thursday, while Sikeston hosts Kelly today. Sikeston beat the Lady Hawks earlier in the year. Kelly hasn't lost since.
"We know Kelly is going to be ready for us," said Brooks. "That's a grudge match. I don't have to tell these girls to get up for that game, they want it real bad. It's going to be fun to watch."
Sikeston won Monday's junior varsity game, 59-18. Mia Welch led the Lady Bulldogs with 10 points. Molly Hartmann paced Jackson with 14.