(Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
CAPE GIRARDEAU -- Last year Fredericktown put an end to Sikeston's girls basketball season, beating the Lady Bulldogs in the district finals.
Sikeston got its revenge on Monday night, edging Fredericktown in the first round of the Class 4, District 1 Tournament at Notre Dame.
It wasn't easy, but the Lady Bulldogs pulled together in overtime for a 58-52 victory. Sikeston was able to wear the Lady Blackcats down, using several players off the bench.
"Anytime you can get past the first round, especially against a quality team like Fredericktown, you have to be happy," said Sikeston head coach Lee Brooks. "We live to fight one more day. The girls are vindicated."
Silverthorn scored the first points of the extra period with a runner through the lane to make it 53-51. Blurton stole the ball away on Fredericktown's ensuing possession, scoring a layup to put the Lady Bulldogs up four.
Silverthorn then came up with another steal and bled the clock down to 50 seconds before she was fouled. She missed the free throw, but came up with the rebound and got it to Joy Daniel.
"I knew (the freshmen) had the energy, and they had nothing to lose," said Brooks. "They go all-out and give us everything they've got. They've been playing together for a long time. I thought that combination would work for us, and it did."
Daniel hit 1-of-2 foul shots to increase Sikeston's lead to 56-51. Fredericktown's only point in overtime was scored by Ashley Moyers at the free throw line with 20 seconds remaining.
After the foul shot, Sikeston broke Fredericktown's press and found Jennifer Medlin for an easy layup to make it 58-52. Moyers got off a half-court shot at the buzzer, but it was off its mark, giving Sikeston the six-point victory.
"We were worried all year long about whether we could score at the critical times," said Fredericktown head coach Lonny Sheldon. "We've been in the 40s most of the time, and that's putting a lot of pressure on your defense."
While turnovers lost it late for Fredericktown, they were a serious problem for Sikeston in the early stages of Monday's game. The Lady Bulldogs turned it over eight times in the first quarter as Fredericktown jumped out to an 11-10 lead.
In the second quarter, Sikeston did little to stop the inside play of Jessica Johnson and Ashley Harris. The duo scored all 14 of Fredericktown's points in the second period.
Sikeston weathered the storm with 3-pointers from Blurton and Medlin, and six points from freshman Whitney McCray. The late surge gave the Lady Bulldogs a 27-25 halftime advantage.
In the third quarter, Fredericktown came out on fire, taking control of the game with a 7-1 run. The Lady Bulldogs regrouped, scoring eight points late to tie the score at 40-40 heading into the fourth period.
"I think our defense sparked our offense," said Brooks. "When those young kids came in playing so hard, my seniors felt like they had to step it up a little bit, and they did. They came back and were ready to play."
With 3:40 left in regulation, a Kristen Moyers putback gave Fredericktown a 51-46 lead. Daniel cut the lead down to three with a shot in the post, then Blurton came up with a steal with 57 seconds left.
She got the ball to Kerri Jones, who nailed a baseline jumper to shave the lead down to 51-50. Sikeston got the ball back and bled the clock down to 7.5 seconds.
The Lady Bulldogs got the ball inside to Daniel, who drew a foul and hit 1-of-2 free throws to tie the score at 51-51. On Fredericktown's next possession, Daniel came up with a steal. Medlin and Blurton both got shots off before the buzzer sounded, but neither connected, sending the game into overtime.
"Towards the end of the game, we had a five point lead, but just didn't handle the ball well under the pressure," said Sheldon. "A lot of that is lack of experience. The turnovers definitely killed us in the end."
Daniel led all Sikeston scorers with 13 points, followed by Medlin with 12 and Blurton with 11. Johnson paced Fredericktown with 20, followed by Kristen Moyers with 10.
"(Johnson) is a good player," said Sheldon. "She scores against everybody we play, and that's a pretty good trademark. We've played some pretty good teams, and she's been around 20 in most of them. She's an excellent player and has excellent hands inside."
Fredericktown ends the season with a record of 9-15. Sikeston improves to 10-15 and advances to the semifinal round of districts. They will face top-seeded Notre Dame on Wednesday night at 6 p.m.
"Notre Dame is the best team in this tournament," said Brooks. "Can we win it? I don't know, but we're going to play it. I did not want to lose tonight. Like I told (the team), if somebody beats us, let it be number one. There's no shame in losing to them."