SIKESTON - The Sikeston Bulldogs closed out the regular season with a tough 45-36 loss to SEMO Conference rival Kennett on Friday night at the Field House.
The two teams are on opposite sides of the bracket in the upcoming Class 3A, District 1 Tournament which starts Tuesday at the Field House.
Third-seeded Sikeston (13-11, 4-4 SEMO Conference) opens play with No. 6 Perryville at 6:30 p.m.
Fourth-seeded Kennett (16-9, 3-5) plays No. 5 Doniphan at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Although the game didn't have any bearing on the district, the loss was a bitter pill to swallow with the tournament right around the corner.
Sikeston made just 33 percent of its field goals and seemed to have shots rim in and out all night long.
"Our intensity wasn't very good and we never really got into the flow of the game, especially offensively," said Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield. "We just couldn't buy a bucket. We got pretty good looks most of the night but we couldn't knock shots down."
The Indians, which had lost six of its last seven games entering the contest, were just happy to get a victory to end the season.
"Anytime you can beat Sikeston at Sikeston, that's great -- we really needed this win," said Kennett head coach Tim Turlington. "We've been struggling. We've been playing pretty good and playing hard but not winning. I'm really happy for the seniors to get this last regular season win."
The Indians' ball pressure gave the Bulldogs fits all night, forcing 17 turnovers.
"We've been playing well as far as not turning the basketball over," said Holifield. "But tonight we were very careless. I think it's a concentration thing and we've got to put ourselves in a position to where we're more mentally focused."
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 4-1 lead before the Indians went on a 9-0 run to lead 10-4. Kennett led 14-7 after one quarter.
The Bulldogs' defense turned up a notch in the second quarter, holding the Indians to six points while taking a 21-20 lead at the half.
Sikeston's Lontas McClinton scored 15 of the Bulldogs' 21 points in the first half.
"Sikeston's a very strong ballclub, especially in the post," said Turlington. "That McClinton does a lot of things in there. Then you've got a 6-4 guy in (Justin) Freeman out there nailing 3s so you've got to respect that too. It's hard to guard that but I thought we played well on defense."
The Indians made some adjustments at halftime, holding McClinton to just four second half points.
"Coming into the game we were wanting to front him and then slide a man in behind him and we didn't get that done in the first half," said Turlington. "In the second half we switched men and changed up our defense a little bit and it paid off."
McClinton finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds, but the Bulldogs couldn't get any other player in double figures. The 'Dogs' third leading scorer Lavar Morgan failed to score on the night.
"They were giving (McClinton) a lot of attention down low," said Holifield. "He basically had two and three guys on him at times. It was a good gameplan by them, but we had a hard time knocking the open shot down. If you make a couple of those shots it opens things up and we just never could get into the flow."
Sikeston had a good start to the third quarter, jumping out to a 30-25 lead on a Freeman 3-pointer with 4:31 left in the period.
But the Indians ended the quarter on an 8-2 run highlighted by Travis Turner's offensive putback at the buzzer to give the Indians a 33-32 lead.
"We went up 30-25 and I thought we were getting ready to make a move and pull away but then we had two careless turnovers," said Holifield. "Overall it just wasn't a good performance."
Kennett never trailed again. The Indians started the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run to lead 40-32.
The Bulldogs never got closer than five the rest of the way.
"We just have to regroup and prepare Tuesday for Perryville," said Holifield. "We just have to get back to work and we can't dwell on a negative."
Kennett was led by Tyree Goolsby's 13 points and Dustin Pritchett's 10.
Sikeston's Ben Anderson had eight rebounds to go with his five points.
The Sikeston jayvee team ended its season on a positive note by defeating Kennett 58-48.
Sikeston finished the year 12-9 and 2-6 in the SEMO Conference.
The Bulldogs led 14-7 after one quarter and 33-21 at the half.
Sikeston was led by Freddie Wiggins with 17 points and 16 rebounds. Ryne Vickery followed up with 12 points, including three 3-pointers. Apollo Patterson added 11 points.
Kennett was led by Cody Robinson's 15 points and Dontavis Jones' 13 points.