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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Bulldogs make use of time off

Sunday, January 4, 2004

Sikeston coach Gregg Holifield speaks to the team during a Dec. 5 game against Dexter.
SIKESTON - With the disappointing news that the Sikeston Bulldogs weren't going to be allowed to participate in the Marion Holiday Tournament over Christmas, the team has been trying to make the most of the time off.

Having long layoffs over the break is nothing new to the Bulldogs, who have only played in Christmas tournaments four times since the early 1980s.

Until an opening occurs in the seMissourian or Bloomfield tournaments, which are two tournaments the school has been vying to get in for a number of years, Sikeston will continue to practice until they're blue in the face over the holidays.

While nothing improves a team more than playing other competition, good old-fashioned practice time has its merits.

"It's given us an opportunity to work on many areas, you know we're so young," said Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield. "This time off has been good for us. We have so much inexperience on the court and it's given us an opportunity to work on certain things, especially defensively. Plus we've put our kids in game-type situations that have also helped. I can see improvement. These past two weeks it's been a crucial time for us to attempt to get better."

Sikeston was slated to play in the Marion tournament where they would have gotten five games against some solid competition.

But the Missouri State High School Activities Association ruled that Missouri teams can't play five games in a round robin format.

Therefore the Bulldogs had to pull out of the tournament to avoid being penalized by the state department.

It was a tournament Holifield and his team were excited about.

"We were really looking forward to it, we knew it was going to be an outstanding tournament," said Holifield. "It's just one of those things that happened. With the way the tournament was set up, the state department wouldn't let us play in it. It would've been a great experience for our kids to play against some good competition. On the positive side, these two weeks that we haven't played has given us an opportunity to catch up and hopefully make improvements."

Sikeston has gotten off to a 2-6 start this season, defeating only New Madrid County Central and Notre Dame.

Of Sikeston's six losses, they have come to five solid teams in Blytheville twice, Charleston, Farmington, DeSoto and Dexter, who have a combined record of 55-11.

The schedule doesn't get any easier as the Bulldogs host district opponent Fredericktown (8-3) on Tuesday. They follow that up with the No. 1 ranked team in Class 3 in Charleston on Friday.

Until last year, Sikeston always came out of Christmas break by playing Charleston, who, on the flip side always stayed sharp in the Christmas tournaments.

And more often than not in those games the Bulldogs couldn't shake off the rust of the long layoff.

Holifield says that could be a factor once again this season.

"It's going to take a little bit of time out of Christmas to get going because we've had such a long layoff, but I think by the middle of January you're going to see a much better team," said Holifield. "We're playing so many underclassmen, some sophomores and a freshman. We're going to have some ups and downs this year, we all know that. What we strive to do is work hard every day in practice and games and just try to get better and hopefully by district tournament time put as good a team as we can on the court."