Exactly two weeks after an emotionally uplifting win against Dexter, the Bulldogs now find themselves with a four-game losing streak heading into Christmas break after Friday's 56-44 loss to Notre Dame at the Field House.
The Bulldogs (3-6) won't play again until Jan. 7 when they travel to Fredericktown at 6 p.m.
It wasn't the way head coach Gregg Holifield wanted to go into the break.
"We're going to take this Christmas break and take some time and reevaluate our situation," said Holifield. "We're just not playing like we were last week. We just have to make some adjustments, possibly with personnel also, and reevaluate what direction we want to go in."
The Bulldogs were going backwards on Friday.
After Sikeston took a 10-8 lead in the first quarter, Notre Dame responded with seven straight points to end the quarter with a 15-10 lead.
The Bulldogs never recovered from the run.
Sikeston closed to 15-14 after a Lontas McClinton slam dunk with 6:47 left in the second quarter but they never got any closer.
McClinton scored 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting with seven rebounds and four steals. But he only had five points in the second half as the Bulldog guards were unable to get him the ball.
"We tried to keep him from catching it in the paint and hurting us because he's a great player," said Notre Dame head coach Darrin Scott. "If he catches it around the basket then we can't keep him from scoring."
It was a collapsing defense that the Bulldogs have been able to overcome this year on numerous occasions with good perimeter shooting.
That wasn't the case on Friday as the Bulldogs were just 2-of-10 from 3-point range. Other than McClinton the team was just 13-of-34 (38 percent) from the field.
"They really did a good job of surrounding (McClinton), but we did a poor job of getting him the basketball," said Holifield. "There were opportunities where we could get it to him but we were hesitant in doing so, and we were hesitant in shooting the basketball."
After McClinton's jam cut the lead to one, Notre Dame responded with a 7-0 run to open up a 21-14 lead. The lead swelled to 28-20 by halftime.
In the third quarter, Notre Dame led by as much as 10 early, but the Bulldogs scored three straight baskets to make it 32-28 with 3:07 left in the quarter.
The Bulldogs got as close as three but Notre Dame's Wayne Essner hit two free throws to take a 37-32 lead heading into the final frame.
Sikeston started the fourth quarter strong, cutting the lead to 41-39 on a Marcus McCaster 3-pointer with 6:31 left in the game, but that was as close s the Bulldogs would get.
Notre Dame scored eight straight points to lead 49-39. The lead reached its height when Cory Beussink scored to make it 56-42 with less than a minute remaining.
"I was real pleased with our effort," said Scott. "Both teams can probably both improve on offense quite a bit. But we executed and did the things we needed to do and we showed a lot of heart. I thought we played with more composure and a little more discipline."
Beussink led Notre Dame (3-2) with 18 points. Tyler Cuba added 14 points and Essner had 10.
Many of Notre Dame's baskets were scored on back-door layups.
"Sometimes we don't attack pressure with penetration real well, so we really emphasized going back-door," said Scott. "The biggest thing we emphasized was rebounding. We wanted to limit them to one shot."
After McClinton, Sikeston had no other player reach double figures. McCaster was next in line with nine points. Lavar Morgan, the Bulldogs' second leading scorer, had just two points with three rebounds and three assists.
"We felt Morgan was their next best scorer in the starting lineup so we wanted to get on him," said Scott. "And also McCaster shoots it well, he hit some big shots for them, so we wanted to get out on him."
The game marked Sikeston's SEMO Conference opener. It was also against a district opponent. The Bulldogs were in the driver's seat to get the top seed with their win against Dexter, but Friday night's loss puts all three teams at 1-1 against district foes.
"Dexter got us last Tuesday and Sikeston got Dexter, so with us three we've all beaten each other so that evens it up," said Scott. "This will give us a big boost confidence wise. If we don't get better as the season goes on then this win was worthless."
Notre Dame received the No. 2 seed in the seMissourian Christmas Tournament at the Show Me Center. They will play Oak Ridge on Dec. 26 at 10:30 a.m. Even though Friday's game could have negative ramifications for the Bulldogs come district time, Holifield said that is the least of his worries.
"Right now we're at a position to where we take it one day at a time, one game at a time, and not even concern ourselves with that right now," said Holifield. "We've got to start playing better basketball. We've got to make some corrections and we may have to make some personnel changes to get where we need to be."
Sikeston won't have another home game until they host Doniphan on Jan. 17.
The Sikeston junior varsity team improved to 6-3 on the season with a 53-40 win against Notre Dame.
Sikeston led 13-3 at one point in the first quarter and never looked back. The Bulldogs led 13-7 after one quarter of play and 23-18 at the half. The Bulldogs opened up a 35-23 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Tyler Woodson and Apollo Patterson led the Bulldogs with 13 points each. Felante Larry added 11 points.
The win is the third straight for the JV Bulldogs.