(Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- With four minutes left in regulation, Sikeston's girls basketball team had highly-touted Twin Rivers on the ropes Monday night, holding the ball with a three-point lead.
The Lady Bulldogs were unable to pull off the upset though, turning the ball over five times down the stretch in an eye-opening 52-48 loss.
Even with the loss, head coach Lee Brooks was proud of his team's effort.
"This is our best performance of the season," said Brooks. "If we can take this and build on it, we won't have much problem."
But Twin Rivers had no answer for Sikeston's post game on Monday night.
Joy Daniel scored a game-high 20 points and pulled down 15 rebounds, keeping Sikeston in striking distance the entire way.
"We couldn't stop her," said Twin Rivers head coach Jeff Walk. "She's one of the better post players around. She's 6-foot, strong, and they get the ball to her quite a bit. I would trade for her. Having a post player like that would really help us out."
Daniel dominated from the opening tip, scoring six early points. Junior standout Amanda Lance paced the Lady Royals, ending the first quarter with a conventional 3-point play to give Twin Rivers a 14-11 advantage.
The Lady Royals then extended their lead to 28-22 at halftime behind 3-pointers from Tiffany Mitchell and Lance.
In the third quarter, Sikeston's Mia Welch got into the scoring action with six points. Mitchell ended the quarter with her second trey of the game as Twin Rivers took a 40-34 lead into the final frame.
Alison Blurton opened the fourth period with a bang, knocking down a 3-pointer to spark a 7-0 Sikeston run.
"Sikeston has a good basketball team," said Walk. "They're big and they've got a couple of kids that can shoot the three. Lee will get them going by district time."
Brandi Deffendall snapped Twin Rivers' scoring drought with a free throw to tie the score at 41-41.
A Jennifer Medlin jumper gave Sikeston a 43-41 advantage, but Lance quickly reversed the momentum with a steal, taking it to the other end for an easy layup.
With three minutes left, the Lady Royals dropped into a stall holding a 1-point lead.
"We generally make our free throws," said Walk. "We've been doing (the stall) for the last five or six years, and these kids seem to respond to it."
The move paid off as the Lady Royals hit six free throws late to seal the win. Sikeston didn't help its own cause, turning the ball over in five of its final eight possessions.
"That was due to lack of experience," said Brooks. "We had some younger players in there at the end. I was trying to go with some of the kids that were a little more energetic and a little quicker. I thought some of the younger players could've done it, but it cost us a couple of turnovers."
Twin Rivers (15-2) will host Van Buren on Tuesday.
"We're just happy to get out of here with a win," said Walk. "(Coach Brooks) always does something to confuse our kids and he does a good job coaching his group."
Sikeston (7-12) will travel to Oran on Wednesday.
"I'm very proud of this game," said Brooks. "I think we turned the corner tonight. (The girls) came out tonight and stepped up their game. I think they sent a message to some of the people we've got to play down the stretch."
In Monday's junior varsity girls game, Sikeston defeated Twin Rivers 48-31. Alison Blurton led the Lady Bulldogs with 13 points. Nyketia Johnson contributed 12 in the win.
For Twin Rivers, Amanda Trout led the way with seven.