(photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON - The 31st Annual Sikeston Invitational Tournament got underway on Monday night at the Field House.
There were no surprises in the first round as all games went according to seed.
Top-seeded Poplar Bluff rolled through No. 8 Kennett 90-39, fourth-seeded Sikeston cruised past No. 5 New Madrid County Central 55-46 and No. 2-seeded Charleston pushed past Doniphan 83-64 in the nightcap.
The tournament will resume today with No. 3 Blytheville taking on sixth-seeded Cape Central on 5:30 p.m. in the first round. Kennett will play NMCC in the consolation semifinal at 7 p.m.
The top draw of the night will be at 8:30 when Poplar Bluff and Sikeston clash.
The Bulldogs never trailed in the game and they were never seriously threatened by the Eagles.
NMCC, the three time defending Sikeston Invitational champions, are now 0-4 on the season, marking the team's worst start since going 0-6 in the 1997-98 season.
"We got dominated by a better team tonight," said first-year NMCC head coach David Fields. "That's about all you can say."
It's Sikeston's first win against NMCC since January of 1998, snapping a seven-game losing streak to the Eagles.
The Bulldogs controlled the game from the outset but they never could shake the Eagles.
"We got the lead and basically got lackadaisical it seemed like," said Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield. "If we could've gotten it over 20, I think we would've been in good shape. But we got a little careless and sloppy and we quit moving offensively. At times I thought we played a little bit weak tonight. But overall it was a good win for us against a good program."
Sikeston raced out to a 9-0 lead highlighted by an impressive alley-oop slam dunk by Lontas McClinton to stir up the home crowd.
But the Eagles responded, cutting the lead to 12-10 by quarter's end.
The Bulldogs started the second quarter with a 12-0 run to lead 24-10 on Marcus McCaster's conventional 3-point play with 3:59 left in the half.
The Bulldogs took a 33-20 lead heading into halftime on Lavar Morgan's 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Sikeston started the third quarter with a 9-0 run to lead 39-20. Although the lead never reached 20, the Bulldogs led by double figures the rest of the way.
McClinton led all scorers with 11 points. He also had 15 rebounds with two blocked shots and three assists.
Morgan followed up with 10 points and six assists.
Ben Anderson had eight points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots and Lawrence Davis added six points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists.
NMCC was led by Michael Rose and Mack Kimble with six points each.
"Scoring has been a problem all year and I think it's going to continue being a problem," said Fields. "(Sikeston is) more physical than we are and I think it showed in every aspect of the game. They took us out of everything that we wanted to do."
Sikeston has won three in a row to improve to 3-2.
The Bluejays (3-1) fell behind early at 7-2 but it didn't last. Doniphan, content to run-and-gun with the quicker Bluejays, couldn't keep up the pace as Charleston converted several easy layups and dunks on the night.
But even head coach Danny Farmer was somewhat leery of the fast-paced game.
"It was too fast for me," laughed Farmer. "I thought Doniphan played us real hard. I'm just glad we hung in there and kept on plugging. I'm just happy we played hard and responded."
The Bluejays led 18-8 after one quarter and extended the lead to 42-26 by halftime.
First-year Doniphan head coach Shawn Gibbs didn't think his team could defend Charleston's 6-foot-8 and 6-6 post combo of Kewain Gant and Ashton Farmer in a halfcourt set.
"We're looking to push the ball," said Gibbs. "It's a tough situation for us to play halfcourt with them, because they're going to pound the ball inside against us. We wanted to make it a fullcourt game and see if we could get their bench involved. We felt like we had an advantage in depth."
The Dons were able to hang around, trailing 59-45 after three quarters and getting the lead down to 10 at one point in the fourth quarter.
But the Bluejays appeared to be the team with superior depth. Five Charleston players reached double figures in scoring.
Gant led the way with 15 points, eight rebounds and seven blocked shots. Farmer had 14 points, Trentez Lane had 12, and Dramel and Dadrian Jones each had 10.
"We came out slow," said Farmer. "I think we came out expecting Doniphan not expecting to be as good as they were, and then we realized how good they were so we had to pick it up. We knew we could beat them inside. I don't think they're that bad for a seven seed. They may have something to say in that other district at the end of the year."
Doniphan, playing its first game of the year after having two cancellations, was led by Danny Kellas with 20 points. Dale Anderson added 11 points.
"That's the tough thing about a first game, you never know what to expect," said Gibbs. "I thought we came out and played with a lot of intensity. We made mistakes and that's going to happen with the new system that we have this year. I thought our kids really got in and fought on the boards. We were never quite out of it, but we just couldn't get that run that we needed to cut it to a single-digit lead."
Doniphan will play the loser of the Blytheville-Cape Central game on Thursday at 5:30.
The tournament opener proved to be the biggest blowout of the day.
Poplar Bluff (4-0), ranked No. 1 in Southeast Missouri, dominated in every aspect of the game.
The Mules raced out to a 26-5 first quarter lead and never looked back. Even with the junior varsity playing several minutes in the first half, Kennett couldn't make a dent.
Poplar Bluff led 41-14 at the half and 63-28 after three quarters of play.
The Mules had 11 players score. But Tony Webb, a returning second team all-stater, didn't score a point.
The Mules didn't need him as 6-foot-8 sophomore Tyler Hansbrough led all scorers with 17 points. Anthony Gilberto had 14, Desi Higgs had 12 and freshman Ben Hansbrough had 10.
The Mules hit eight 3-pointers and made 26-of-27 free throws in the night.
Kennett (2-1), coming off a big 50-45 win against Portageville, was led by Cody Robinson's 12 points. Tyree Goolsby was held to six points.