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Sikeston peaking at the right time

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Like all team sports, peaking at the right time is essential in high school basketball.

Getting off to a solid start is always a positive, but finishing strong is the most important thing.

From the look of things, Sikeston is playing its best basketball at the right time.

Last night's win over Perryville was Sikeston's 8th victory in 10 games. They've won four straight, and will look to make it five against Notre Dame in Thursday's Class 4, District 1 semifinals.

Can they beat Notre Dame on their home floor?

Definitely.

Don't let Sikeston's overall record fool you.

Their 13-12 record isn't all that impressive, but the schedule has been pretty tough.

While other teams were out piling up easy wins and racking up obscene point totals, Sikeston was getting its oil tested on a nightly basis.

Four losses were to out of state teams, including Illinois' No. 1 ranked Madison, two were to Charleston, two were to Poplar Bluff, one was to St. Louis power Parkway Central and another was to Caruthersville, arguably the hottest team in Southeast Missouri.

The Bulldogs have beaten some pretty high-profile teams as well, like Dexter, DeSoto, Portageville and Cape Central. They've got the best player in the area with Lontas McClinton, who draws more defensive attention than anybody I've seen all year.

His running mate, Lavar Morgan, is a triple-double threat on occasion. And the Bulldogs are loaded with experience as they start five seniors, many of which have been varsity players for three years.

Ben Anderson, a 6-7, 235-pound center, can be a dominating force on the inside when he's not in foul trouble.

Senior Lawrence Davis provides steady ball-handling and is one of the better defenders on the team. Senior Michael Colon is a warrior on the boards, and is also a solid defender.

Junior Nate Thomas has improved steadily as the season has progressed. His quickness gives opposing ball-handlers problems, and he's capable of hitting the outside shot.

Sophomore Marcus McCaster also provides good ball-handling skills and is the team's third leading scorer. Junior Freddie Wiggins also comes off the bench to give the Bulldogs a rebounding presence.

Sikeston isn't the greatest offensive team, but they make up for it in the rebounding department. The Bulldogs have out-rebounded nearly every opponent they've played, including Poplar Bluff and Charleston.

Teams consistently surround McClinton with two and three people. So if Sikeston can hit the outside shot, then they will beat Notre Dame and give Dexter fits in the finals. If not, it's time for baseball and track season.

Sikeston may not win the district. But it won't be due to a lack of preparation.

- Charleston is finally getting the respect it deserves. The Bluejays moved up to No. 2 in Class 3 this week, their highest ranking of the season. And to think, all it took was a win over Poplar Bluff.

Speaking of Bluff, the Mules dropped like a lead balloon in this week's poll, falling from No. 2 to No. 9 in Class 5. Dexter also fell to No. 8 in Class 4 and Bell City dropped to No. 10 in Class 1.