Bulldogs look for momentum in regular season finale
SIKESTON - The Sikeston Bulldogs boys basketball team will close out the regular season on Friday night with a home game against the Kennett Indians.
Since the 3A District 1 seed meeting has already taken place, the game doesn't carry as much weight as it would if it were played earlier in the season.
But there is still plenty at stake.
The Bulldogs (13-10, 4-3) will be trying to finish above .500 in the SEMO Conference and will also be looking to enter the district tournament on a winning note.
"You want to be playing well going into the district tournament," said Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield. "It's a very important game in that aspect, especially on our home court. Plus it gives us an opportunity to finish 5-3 in the conference, and as tough as our conference is, that's a good record."
Kennett (15-9) enters with a solid reputation after winning the Bootheel Conference with an undefeated record. But the Indians have struggled in the SEMO Conference, entering the game with a 2-5 record.
"Kennett's a fine basketball team, they've got 15 wins," said Holifield. "It's a SEMO Conference game and we know that we're going to have to play well to beat them. They've beaten good teams such as Portageville and they took Poplar Bluff to overtime. They have the potential to be an outstanding team at times."
The Indians are led by 6-3 senior forward Dustin Pritchett, who averages 16 points and seven rebounds per game. Pritchett is also capable of stepping out and hitting the 3-point shot.
Julius Taylor, a 6-3 senior forward, scores about 12 points per game.
Forward Tishaun Carter and lightning quick guard Tyree Goolsby both average about eight points per game.
Daniel Christian, O'Brian Jones, Travis Turner and Brian Mitchell will also see plenty of playing time.
"Dustin Pritchett is a fine perimeter player plus he's a good defensive player," said Holifield. "Julius Taylor is a good post player for them and Tyree Goolsby is a real quick guard. They've also got the Carter kid inside that's been playing well as of late. They have a well-balanced attack and they get scoring from a lot of different people, but that's probably their top four players."
The Indians, like Sikeston, dress a team full of football players. So Holifield knows that they will be a quick, athletic team.
"They're a very good defensive team," said Holifield. "They play solid man-to-man defense, they have good quickness out on the perimeter and they put a lot of pressure on the basketball. They also have the potential to score. They can put big numbers up on the board, especially if Pritchett is shooting the ball well. They present a lot of problems."
Kennett head coach Tim Turlington knows his team, which has lost six of their last seven games, will be in for a battle.
"It'll be a pretty good game I think," said Turlington.
"Sikeston's playing pretty well. They had a big huge win over Poplar Bluff a couple of weeks ago and then they played New Madrid real well Tuesday night. They're playing a lot better than they were early in the season."
Sikeston has been getting solid play out of junior forward Lontas McClinton, who is averaging 19 points and 10 rebounds per game. He scored 32 points with 14 rebounds on Tuesday against New Madrid County Central.
"McClinton, from what I've gathered in the paper the last couple of weeks, is really starting to play up to Coach Holifield's expectations finally," said Turlington. "He seems to be playing real well. He'll be a tough matchup for us with his size and strength."
Junior guard Lavar Morgan and senior forward Justin Freeman both combine to score about 23 points per game.
Turlington feels playing in the Field House makes for a tough shooting night for the visiting team.
"Anytime you play Sikeston in that gym it's a huge, huge advantage," said Turlington. "I've seen teams struggling to shoot the ball there all the time until you've played there a couple of times. It's a hard place to play and the environment's going to be tough. There'll probably be a big crowd."