Lady Bulldogs to play for 3A District 1 title
SIKESTON - In what may be the biggest win in the history of Sikeston's girls basketball program, the Lady Bulldogs eliminated the defending Class 3A runners up and the top-seeded Doniphan Donettes on Wednesday 56-51 in the Class 3A, District 1 Tournament at the Field House.
Sikeston (16-9) advances to what is believed to be its first district finals appearance ever. They will meet Fredericktown (38-30 winners over Dexter) on Friday for the championship at 6 p.m.
If it isn't Sikeston's greatest win in school history, it certainly ranks among the tops for 10-year head coach Lee Brooks.
"It is the biggest win (in my career)," said Brooks. "There's no way to compare this with anything else we've done. I've got some kids that are blue-collar workers and they listen. I'm very pleased."
The Donettes (15-9) entered the game as the four-time defending district champions. And they usually are ranked among the top teams in the state.
"It's been a great run," said Doniphan head coach Jimbo Blackwell. "We only had two seniors returning and they stepped it up. I feel real sorry for them because they don't get another chance. It's really disappointing."
Blackwell said his team didn't take the Lady Bulldogs lightly.
"I knew after they beat Perryville (on Monday) that they were good," said Blackwell. "They've got some big people that are good and they've got a nice team. They're coach does a good job with them and they deserve to win. They basically just outplayed us."
Sikeston dominated on the inside with 5-foot-10 Joy Daniel scoring a team-high 17 points and 5-foot-10 Kerri Jones scoring 12 of her 14 in the first half.
"She was a workhorse," said Brooks of Daniel. "Everybody knows Joy Daniel can play. Jones has been playing well for us all year. She's got knee problems right now, but tonight she gave us some key baskets."
Both players scored many of their points after breaking the Donettes' full-court press.
"That's part of our strategy (to score off the press)," said Brooks. "A lot of teams just try to get the ball in and get it up the court. What we try to do is score and make them pay for pressing us. That's one thing we work on a lot."
The rest of their points were scored on offensive putbacks. The taller Lady Bulldogs dominated the offensive boards.
Doniphan's tallest regular stood just 5-foot-8.
"We've fought that all year," said Blackwell of the size disparity. "If we can't really pressure, then we just have a hard time stopping people inside with size."
Doniphan took the early lead at 10-7 and 12-9 in the first quarter but it was short-lived. Sikeston rallied to take the lead at 13-12 after one quarter and they never trailed again.
The Lady Bulldogs were able to extend the lead to 30-22 at halftime.
"Doniphan's such a class act," said Brooks. "There's no way you can't come in and play your best game against them. Anything less, then you'd lose."
Sikeston opened up a 37-25 lead in the third quarter before the Donettes cut it back to 45-38 entering the fourth quarter.
"I have to give it to my girls," said Brooks. "We kept our composure late. We threw the ball away too much and we didn't keep our composure on the press as much, but we overcame it."
Doniphan slowly crept back in the game and got it to 50-49 on Brandi Cox's jumper with 1:25 left to play.
But Sikeston's Stephanie Clark clutched it up and connected on six consecutive free throws in the final 50 seconds to seal the win.
The Lady Bulldogs hit 9-of-10 from the line in the fourth quarter and 13-of-16 in the game.
"When teams put us on the line, then we score," said Brooks. "We shoot very well from the free throw line as a team."
Clark and Jennifer Medlin finished with nine points apiece.
Doniphan was led by Cox's game-high 24 points, including five 3-pointers. Kristi Kennon added 11 points. Cox briefly held the state record for 3-pointers in a game this season, but it was broken less than a week later by Perryville's Amanda Nuyt.
"Good players you will never shut down," said Brooks. "Cox works so hard to get her shots off and we just didn't want to give them to her uncontested. She's a great player."
Now Sikeston will set its sights on second-seeded Fredericktown in an unfamiliar position -- the championship game. Brooks thinks his team will be ready.
"Right now the girls just want to play," said Brooks. "They smell blood and they're wanting to get after it."
In a slow-paced, defensive game, the Lady Blackcats held off Dexter with a big third quarter.
Fredericktown extended a 12-10 halftime lead to 28-17 entering the fourth quarter.
Fredericktown (20-7) was led by Nickey Tucker's 19 points. Dexter (17-7) was led by Rachel Blunt's 10 points. The Lady Bearcats' leading scorer, Katie Dunlap, was held to three points.