BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. -- The Sikeston Bulldog basketball team dropped its season opener with a 59-37 road loss to a powerful Blytheville squad.
Sikeston fell behind 10-0 right off the bat and never could recover as the Chickasaws steadily pulled away from there.
"Blytheville has an outstanding team and this is one of the better teams I've seen them have," said Sikeston coach Gregg Holifield. "I was really impressed with them. I've been coming down here for seven or eight years and this is one of the better Blytheville teams we've faced. I'm sure they're one of the top teams in the state in Arkansas."
The Chickasaws (3-0) used a combination of size, quickness and athleticism to take the Bulldogs out of their offense. But perhaps the biggest difference was the Chickasaws' work on the offensive boards, where they grabbed 16 of their 30 rebounds. Sikeston managed just 18 rebounds.
"They really hurt us on the boards -- they're so big, strong and quick," said Holifield. "Our positioning wasn't very good and we didn't block out. It's just things we have to work on. We've only been practicing three weeks and we will get more time to work on those things."
Blytheville star forward John Fowler pumped in a game-high 23 points along with eight rebounds.
"He's just a different level," said Holifield of Fowler. "He's gotten so much better from last year, and he was tough last year. He's taken his game to a different level."
Blytheville led 15-6 after one quarter and 36-16 at the half. The Bulldogs had a better showing in the second half as the Chickasaws only out-scored them 23-21.
"We had a much better attitude with this team than I saw last year," said Holifield. "With practice time you'll see improvement."
Blytheville's Roosevelt Jackson had 12 points while 6-foot-4 Chris Echols added 10 points and nine rebounds.
"I thought there were things we did really well and we played with intensity," said Blytheville coach David Hixson. "I thought we defended their offense decently well. Obviously our size was a little difference in getting some second chance points."
Sikeston got 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting from junior Rod Moore. Sophomore Julian Beard added 10 points with two steals and two blocks.
"I'm very proud of the team effort," said Holifield. "Our attitude's so much better than it was last year. Rod played well. He got in there and banged and mixed it up. He did a good job."
Said Hixson: "The Moore kid was impressive. I liked the way he played because he just got in there and out-worked us several times. That's a good sign for Gregg's bunch. If they've got kids like that then they'll get better, no doubt."
The Sikeston junior varsity team picked up its first win of the season with a 40-30 victory against Blytheville, avenging a loss last week in the Notre Dame Tournament.
Sikeston (1-3) hit 17-of-26 free throws for the game and were 13-of-15 in the second half.
Blake Taylor led the Bulldogs with 11 points, including 9-of-10 from the line.
Cortne Beasley had nine points with seven steals and six rebounds.
Andrew Sales added eight points and Josh Jackson had eight points, four rebounds and three steals. Cameron Wiggins had 10 rebounds.