Seniors lead Sikeston to Homecoming victory
SIKESTON - The Sikeston Bulldogs tied a season-high by winning their third straight game on Saturday with a 57-51 win against Portageville on homecoming night at the Field House.
Sikeston (8-10) controlled the game from the opening tip and they never trailed in the contest.
The Bulldogs led by as much as 19 in the fourth quarter, but a late rally by Portageville made things interesting until the final buzzer.
Portageville, which had just 25 points entering the fourth quarter, scored 26 in the final frame, eventually cutting Sikeston's lead to four with 22 seconds left.
But Portageville wasn't able to score again.
Sikeston missed 10 free throws in the fourth quarter, including five straight at one point.
Portageville also canned three 3-pointers and made 7-of-9 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter.
"We got up 20 points and you have to give them credit, they kept battling," said Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield. "A lot of teams would've laid down, but Portageville didn't and they really played well down the stretch. We've just got to put ourselves into a position to put people away. That's about the third or fourth time that's happened this year where we were up 15 to 20 points and we ended up winning by six or seven points."
Portageville (12-4) entered the game on a seven-game winning streak and they were ranked No. 9 in the SEMO Regional Poll.
Even though his team defeated the Bulldogs 75-37 last season, Portageville head coach Jim Bidewell didn't expect that to happen this year.
"This was kind of a game I anticipated because we have not been playing good and we haven't been practicing well," said Bidewell. "I knew Sikeston's got talent, they beat Dexter and they had Bluff down. I knew we were out-matched. Our kids just have to find a better way of stepping up."
But it was Sikeston that stepped up.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 6-0 lead and they never looked back.
Two free throws by Ben Anderson gave the Bulldogs a 15-5 lead with 37 seconds left in the quarter, but Edgar Fonda scored to make it 15-7 by the end of the period.
Lontas McClinton, who battled foul problems all night, got things going in the second quarter with a two-handed slam off a pick-and-roll to get the large homecoming crowd stirred up.
Sikeston led by as much as 12 in the second quarter but Portageville's Willie Hassell scored on back-to-back baskets to cut the lead to 23-16 by halftime.
The Bulldogs dominated the third quarter, opening up a 42-25 lead heading into the fourth.
Lavar Morgan scored 10 of his game-high 17 points in the third quarter. He also had 10 rebounds and five assists.
Despite the limited playing time, McClinton finished up with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
But it was the added scoring of seniors Michael Colon and Anderson that proved to be the difference.
Colon finished with a season-high 13 points to go with his five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Anderson posted a season-high 11 points with six rebounds and four blocked shots.
"We had trouble with all of them," said Bidewell. "We didn't get out and deny and we just absolutely refused to rebound in the first half. That's something that you just can't do against bigger, physical kids. They're a real physical ball team. The McClinton kid does a good job and when they run the high-low with the big kid (Anderson) and seal off, it's really hard to guard. We were out-matched in that area. But you have to put more fight into it when you're out-matched. We didn't until the end and it was too late."
The Bulldogs' biggest lead came at the 7:20 mark of the fourth quarter when Anderson scored to make it 44-25.
That's when a trio of sophomores for Portageville stepped it up.
Antonio Scott, Jimmy Larry and Jordan Penn combined to score 22 of the team's 26 points in the fourth quarter.
Sikeston still looked to be in good shape when they led 54-41 with 1:29 left in the game.
But Portageville scored 10 points in less than a minute to make a game of it. Fonda's 3-pointer with 22 seconds left made it 55-51 but that was as close as they would get.
"Our young kids battled us back and that's about the second or third game they've done that," said Bidewell. "I'm getting tired of the underclassmen showing the heart and the older guys just sitting back and accepting it. It shouldn't happen that way. We've been down like that the last two or three ballgames but we were able to come back and win in overtime. I think it was just one of those teams that it wasn't going to happen."
Hassell led Portageville with 13 points. Scott added 10 points, all in the fourth quarter.
For Sikeston, the inability to close out games strong is concerning Holifield.
It's the 11th time in Sikeston's 18 games that the Bulldogs have been out-scored in the fourth quarter.
"Missed free throws was a big part of it, and we got careless a couple of times with some turnovers and we get soft defensively to try to keep from fouling I guess," said Holifield. "More than anything else we lose our aggressiveness and that puts a team into a position to score on us. I thought for three and a half quarters it was good. We got a little sloppy on the defensive end in the second half, but overall it was a good effort."
The win closed out a 3-0 week for the Bulldogs, who will now set their sights on the top-ranked team in the area on Friday night when they travel to Poplar Bluff at 6 p.m.
"I think our very difficult schedule is putting us over the hump now, but it's not getting any easier with the likes of Poplar Bluff, Cape Central and Parkway Central coming up," said Holifield. "We've just got to be as good as we can be by district tournament time. We've had a good week. We played three good games, we're getting better."
Getting redemption from last year's debacle at Portageville was satisfying for Holifield.
"For our kids it's a nice win because we have a lot of respect for their program," Holifield said. "We know that year in and year out they're as good as any team around. By the end of the year this year, wait and see, they'll be right in the hunt for a district championship."
Portageville, which has already clinched the Bootheel Conference regular season championship, got the top seed in the conference tournament this week.
They will play the winner of the Hayti-Malden game on Thursday.
Sikeston's JV basketball team fell to 10-5 on the season with a 42-37 loss to Portageville.
Sikeston trailed throughout most of the game and never could take the lead on the Bulldogs.
Portageville (13-1) led 9-6 after one quarter and 16-14 at the half. They still led 26-24 heading into the fourth quarter.
Sikeston was led by scoring by Josh Alvarado's 14 points. No other player reached double figures for Sikeston.
Portageville was led by Spencer Martin's 16 points. Jimmy Larry and Antonio Scott followed up with 11 and 10 points respectively.