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Tuesday, Sep. 2, 2014

Bulldogs hold off late rally

Sunday, February 16, 2003

(Photo)
Lontas McClinton prepares to receive a pass in front of Cape's Scott Chestnutt.
SIKESTON - The Sikeston Bulldogs basketball team picked up a big SEMO Conference win on Friday night with a 75-70 victory against Cape Central at the Field House.

The win improved the Bulldogs to 9-11 overall and 3-3 in league play.

Sikeston was scheduled to play Parkway Central on Saturday at the Field House. Results from that game will be in Monday's edition.

The Bulldogs have won seven in a row against Cape Central dating back to the 1998-99 season.

On Friday, Sikeston overcame a seven-point third quarter deficit and eventually led by as much as 16 points on three different occasions in the fourth quarter.

The Bulldogs seemed to have a comfortable 68-52 lead with 2:47 left in the game but the Tigers didn't quit.

Poor free throw shooting by Sikeston and some dead-on 3-point shooting by the Tigers in the final three minutes made things interesting.

A Jay Ruark 3-pointer from beyond NBA range with 10 seconds left cut the lead to 74-70 but that was as close as they would get.

It's the fifth time this year that the Bulldogs have held a sizable lead in the fourth quarter only to see the opposing team rally in the final minutes.

However, the Bulldogs have held on to win all five games.

"We just want to win," said Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield. "We're in a position where we get a lead and we're trying to secure a lead. We have been up 15 to 20 points on Jackson, Portageville, Fredericktown, Dexter and now Cape, and the bottom line is we've won all the games. It's teaching our kids how to win and they're competing very hard to get to that position to have a lead."

Until the final three minutes of the game, the Bulldogs totally dominated the second half.

The Tigers led 43-36 with 6:04 left when Jake Knepp connected on two free throws.

The Bulldogs then went on a 9-0 run, taking a 45-43 lead with 3:20 left in the quarter.

The Tigers (16-7, 3-4 SEMO Conference) tied it at 45-45 on a Scott Chestnutt dunk, but the Bulldogs closed the quarter on a 9-2 run to take a 54-47 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Sikeston all-state forward Lontas McClinton scored 12 of his game-high 26 points in the third quarter.

He also had 10 rebounds, four blocked shots and two steals.

"Give Lontas credit, he made some big shots in the third quarter," said Cape Central head coach Derek McCord. "We did a good job on him in the first half, but in the third quarter he knocked some shots down and he hit some tough shots."

The Bulldogs continued to pour it on in the fourth quarter, scoring the first eight points to lead 62-47 after a Marcus McCaster 3-pointer with 5:25 left in the game.

Shortly afterward, Bulldog starters Lawrence Davis and Michael Colon both fouled out, leaving Sikeston thin on depth.

That led to the Cape Central rally.

"Tonight our kids learned that you never quit, and they showed a lot of character in making it interesting," said McCord. "We were down 16 and all of a sudden we were down four."

The Bulldogs didn't help their own cause, making just 8-of-18 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.

"Number one, we're not making free throws when we need to down the stretch, and two, the teams we're playing are hitting very difficult shots to get them back into the game," said Holifield. "They hit three or four 3s in the last three minutes that were very difficult shots."

The Bulldogs shot well themselves, making 6-of-9 from downtown.

Junior guard Nate Thomas made 2-of-2 from beyond the arc to go with his season-high eight points. And 6-foot-7 center Ben Anderson hit his first career 3-pointer.

Anderson scored a career-high 15 points with six blocked shots, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.

"Defensively he's always good," said Holifield. "But he stepped up and made some big shots tonight. And he had to do that, because they were double- and triple-teaming Lontas down low. Ben was open and he's a good shooter when he's open."

Things didn't look good for Anderson early as he picked up his second foul just two minutes into the game.

But the Bulldogs were still able to jump out to the early lead, taking a 19-10 advantage on a Michael Colon basket.

A Ryan Delph jumper trimmed the Bulldogs' lead to 19-12 at the end of the quarter.

Delph's jumper sparked a 9-0 run where the Tigers tied the game at 19-19.

The Bulldogs still maintained a 24-19 lead on a Lavar Morgan 3-pointer with 5:50 left in the half, but it was short-lived.

Delph canned two 3-pointers in the next minute to give the Tigers their first lead of the game at 27-26 with 4:50 left in the half.

A McClinton basket closed the gap to one point with 1:00 remaining in period but a Corey Bowman 3-pointer in the closing seconds gave the Tigers a 36-32 halftime lead.

"I felt like we out-played them in the first half, but the thing is, it's a four quarter game," said McCord.

The Tigers were led by Knepp's 16 points. Chestnutt had 13 points and eight rebounds while Delph added 13 points with six rebounds.

"We look forward to playing (Sikeston) next year," said McCord. "We're a young team and we know they had six seniors. It's good for our guys to play against this caliber of a team before our district tournament."

The Bulldogs got 14 points with nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals from Morgan.

McCaster added seven points with four assists. Davis had five assists while playing a solid defensive game on Tigers point guard Will Johnson

"Cape's a very good team and I was proud of our effort to build a 16- to 18-point lead against a quality team like that," said Holifield. "We don't get a lot of attention or recognition, but I feel like we've played the toughest schedule in Southeast Missouri and it's just going to help us down the stretch."

Cape Central will play host to Charleston on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in a SEMO Conference matchup.

After the Parkway Central game, the Bulldogs will be on the road on Tuesday against New Madrid County Central. Sikeston will play its final home game on Wednesday against Oran on Senior Night starting at 6 p.m.

The Sikeston jayvee team improved to 11-6 on the season with a 42-41 win against Cape Central. The JV Bulldogs are 4-2 in the SEMO Conference.

Sikeston jumped out early, leading 17-6 after one quarter. Cape Central out-scored the Bulldogs in the final three quarters, but couldn't pull out the win.

Sikeston's Brandon Williams, who hit the game-winning shot from the left baseline with seven seconds remaining, finished with a game-high 12 points.

Freshman Kash Bratcher followed up with 11 points, all in the first half.

Garrett Ozbun led the Tigers with 11 points.