PERRYVILLE - The Sikeston Bulldogs haven't won a district championship since 2000, but they will hope to change that starting tonight when they take on Notre Dame in the semifinals at the Perry Park Center in Perryville.
Despite a 9-14 record, the Bulldogs received the second seed in the Class 4, District 1 Tournament while Notre Dame is seeded third.
The two Bulldog teams will tip off at 7:30 p.m. following top-seeded Dexter's game with No. 5 Fredericktown, which starts at 6 p.m.
The No. 2 seed for the Bulldogs is the highest they've been seeded since that 2000 season.
"Our team's really been working hard and they're very positive," said Sikeston coach Gregg Holifield. "We went through a little bit of a slump there but we rebounded Friday night and played well against Kennett. We've had good practices, the players are working hard and responding well and they're ready to play."
Notre Dame has had some success against the Bulldogs over the years, including a heart-breaking defeat in the 2003 district tournament.
Sikeston defeated Notre Dame 71-64 back on Dec. 17, but they've been struggling in the last several games. They lost seven of eight games before beating Kennett on Friday.
Notre Dame enters the game with a 10-16 record after routing Ste. Genevieve in the first round of the district tournament.
The Bulldogs have gotten a boost with the return of senior forward Bryce Willen after he suffered what was believed to be a season-ending knee injury during soccer season.
"That's a big positive for them," said Holifield. "He's a great kid with a great attitude and I know that was a tough injury that he went through. It shows a lot of character in him to bounce back like he's done. Even though he's still injured, he's such a competitor and a good player that he's going to help them. We're going to have to make some adjustments in certain areas defensively."
Willen has burned the Bulldogs in the past, scoring 25 points in two games against the team last season.
Holifield is hoping his team doesn't look past Notre Dame after handling them in December.
"Like any team, when they're shooting the ball well they feed off that and they play with confidence and play well," said Holifield. "We just have to put ourselves in a position to check their shooters and put as much pressure as we can on the basketball. They're hard workers and they compete. They're difficult to beat if they're shooting the ball well."
The Bulldogs' current four-year streak of no district titles is the longest the school has gone through since a six-year drought between 1984 and 1991.
"Our players have been focused on this for a couple weeks now," said Holifield. "Our goal and objective is to be district champs. We had a couple slumps and went through some ups and downs, but our players are positive and they want to accomplish something great this season. The way to do that is a district title."