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Friday, Apr. 18, 2014

Bulldogs stun NMCC

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

(Photo)
Sikeston's Freddie Wiggins goes up for a shot against NMCC's Remond Willis.
SIKESTON - The 32nd Annual Sikeston Invitational Tournament resumed on Tuesday with two more games.

The Blytheville Chickasaws were stunned by a late Cape Central rally as the Tigers won 52-51 on a shot with two seconds left.

Also, the Sikeston Bulldogs picked up their first win of the year with a 55-43 victory against New Madrid County Central.

After taking today off, the tournament will pick up on Thursday with Poplar Bluff versus Cape Central at 6 p.m. Sikeston will follow up with a 7:30 game against Charleston.

After three straight games of falling way behind early in games, the Sikeston Bulldogs finally put an end to the trend on Tuesday.

In the Bulldogs' last two losses, they were out of the game in the first quarter, but battled to keep the score respectable.

On Tuesday, Sikeston opened up a 9-4 lead early in the first quarter and showed that they were capable of playing with a bigger, stronger NMCC team.

Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield had concerns that his small Bulldog team couldn't hang with the Eagles on the boards. As it turned out, Sikeston probably played NMCC to a stalemate in the rebounding department.

"I thought our kids did a really good job of boxing out and getting on the boards and playing aggressive," said Holifield. "We've got to be aggressive to be able to compete."

The Eagles (2-5) led 10-9 after one quarter and 23-21 at the half, but the Bulldogs exploded in the second half, out-scoring NMCC 34-20 to pull out the win.

The Bulldogs pressured the basketball heavily and caused a ton of turnovers.

"I thought our intensity was good," said Holifield. "We played the way we have to play. We played 10 people and rotated them in and out and tried to keep as much pressure as we could on the basketball."

NMCC held its biggest lead of the game at 27-23 on a Brandon Waters shot early in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs responded with a strong close to the quarter.

Still trailing 28-27, Sikeston freshman Joe Lincoln scored nine straight points in less than a minute to give the Bulldogs the lead for good.

Lincoln converted an old-fashioned 3-point play, and knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers from the same spot in the left corner to give Sikeston a 36-28 lead.

After two Jordan Kimball free throws, Lincoln hit another 3-pointer from the top of the key to extend the lead to 39-30.

He scored 12 of his 14 points in the third quarter. It was Lincoln's second start and just the third game of his varsity career. He also had a couple steals.

"That was really a turning point," said Holifield. "Joe stepped up and had some open looks and knocked them down with a lot of confidence. He's such a big addition to our team because he's such a smart player. He's always in the right place and he plays with such confidence and it makes the players around him more confident. He's the type of player that makes the players around him even better."

The Bulldogs (1-3) were able to ice the game in the fourth quarter with some stellar free throw shooting, making 12-of-15. NMCC got as close as 45-39 on a Joseph Howell basket with about four minutes remaining, but Lincoln rebounded his own miss and scored a putback while being fouled to stop the momentum.

Sikeston made 17-of-23 free throws on the night. NMCC didn't help their own cause as they were just 10-of-22 from the line.

"That's our goal -- if we do that every night then we're in great shape," said Holifield. "That's something that we've been working on and spending time on. I think this team will improve even more in that area because we have fine shooters."

Senior forward Freddie Wiggins played the best game of his varsity career, scoring 18 points with nine rebounds and two steals. He made 10-of-11 free throws in the game.

"I thought it was Freddie's best game of the year," said Holifield. "He really did a good job on the boards. He was aggressive, they were hanging on him and he went to the free throw line and knocked down big free throws. I thought he was outstanding tonight."

Sikeston also got contributions out of junior Johnny Bland, who had eight points with a pair of steals. Junior Marcus McCaster scored just four points, but he grabbed seven rebounds and had three steals.

Senior guard Nate Thomas had six points with five assists and five steals.

It's the third straight time Sikeston has defeated NMCC.

"Right now New Madrid's just kind of feeling their way through," said Holifield. "They're going to have, I think, a really good team by the middle of January. It's just going to take time. You just don't go in there in three weeks and have the program where you want it. The next time we play New Madrid I'm sure we'll see a totally different team."

The Eagles were led in scoring by Howell with nine points. Kimball, a sophomore, followed up with eight points.

The loss marks NMCC's fourth straight of the season, leaving first year head coach Scott Kruse searching for answers.

"We're just not very good right now," said Kruse. "Right now we've got a lot going on and we're not even thinking about winning or losing basketball games. We're trying to fight through a lot of that stuff. We're going to get it right. It may take an entire season. I don't know how long, but we'll get it right. We've got a lot of people that are deciding whether they want to play or not."

For Sikeston, it was a gratifying win after the way the team had performed in their first three games.

"We've spent a lot of time on the practice floor and it's starting to pay off," said Holifield. "We had two extremely difficult road games for a young inexperienced team Friday and Saturday at Dexter and DeSoto. Our schedule is difficult, but it's games like that helps you improve even in losses. I can see improvement each and every day."

The Blytheville Chickasaws let a 14-point lead slip away as the Tigers pulled the shocker, winning on an Eli Harris banked in shot with two seconds left.

Blytheville (4-1) led 44-30 late in the third quarter, but Cape Central ended the period on a 7-0 run to get within striking distance.

Blytheville still led 46-37 in the fourth quarter but the Tigers got hot.

Harris and Jake Knepp buried back-to-back 3-pointers to close the gap. A tip-in by 6-foot-8 center Scott Chestnutt gave Cape Central a 50-49 lead with about two minutes left.

Blytheville's Vontrell Whaley gave the Chickasaws a 51-50 lead with 30 seconds left, setting up Harris' game-winner.

Blytheville got a timeout called with 1.3 seconds left but was unable to get a shot off.

Cape Central was led by Chestnutt's 25 points. No other player reached double figures.

Blytheville was led by John Fowler's 17 points and David Williams' 16 points.