(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Beating a good team three times in the same year is said to be next to impossible. But Sikeston's girls basketball team made it look easy on Thursday night, defeating Kelly 51-39 at the Field House.
"We wanted to come out and show tonight that those other two wins were no fluke," said Sikeston coach Lee Brooks. "The girls were ready to play this game."
The Lady Bulldogs won with a balanced attack.
Five-foot-10 center Mia Welch was in foul trouble most of the night, but still led the way with 15 points. Shooting guard Allison Blurton finished with 14 and backup center Whitney McCray contributed 11.
"Whitney McCray has come on," said Brooks. "She's not real graceful, but she gets the job done. She's got a nose for the ball."
In the previous two meetings, Kelly came out in the final four minutes of regulation and pressured Sikeston's young guards, forcing several turnovers.
The Lady Hawks opened last night's game with the same strategy, but didn't get the same results. Sikeston raced out to a 15-7 lead and never looked back, improving to 7-4 with the 12-point victory.
"Sikeston has a very good basketball team," said Kelly coach Rod McQuerter. "We were fortunate just to keep the game close. When you've got two five-ten girls in the post, that's an advantage for you. But that's no excuse. Sikeston had a great gameplan and we just didn't adjust well."
Sikeston held a 28-20 advantage at halftime.
Blurton opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer. Welch, McCray and Collins also scored in the period as Sikeston increased its lead to 41-29. Both teams fought to a 10-10 stalemate in the fourth, giving Sikeston the 51-39 victory.
All but two of Kelly's points in the final quarter came from the free throw line.
"We got to reaching there at the end," said Brooks. "We work on not doing that all the time, but we were tired. I've got six girls that I can play right now. Robyn Morris is hurt with an extended rotator cuff and didn't play tonight. Jessica Jackson had a bad knee, Mia has a bad hand and Paige (Silverthorn) has two bad ankles. We're kind of banged up right now, but the kids are sucking it up."
Kelly Essner and Mindy Robert led the Lady Hawks with 10 points each.
"The season is young," said McQuerter. "This is all about learning right now. We've got a lot of freshmen and sophomores out there playing and we just want them to learn how to adjust to these pressure situations."
Kelly (6-3) will face East Prairie in the first round of the conference tournament. Sikeston will host Caruthersville on Monday night.
"These kids have surprised me," said Brooks. "I'm just trying to keep up with them."