SIKESTON -- The Southeast Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association released its first high school boys basketball poll today.
To no surprise, Poplar Bluff was listed No. 1 with eight first place votes and 190 points overall.
The Mules opened the season in impressive fashion Tuesday night, blistering Riverview Gardens 81-54 in the first round of the Farmington Invitational.
Sophomore Tyler Hansbrough scored a game-high 33 points in the win.
"They have outstanding personnel returning with (Tony) Webb, Hansbrough and (Cheron) Pearson," said Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield. "That's three major contributors from last year's team. From what I can gather, they've even gotten better this season. They are very well coached. Defensively, they may be as good as any team in the area, plus they all pass it, catch it and shoot it extremely well. No doubt about it, they've got an outstanding team."
Charleston checks in at No. 2 with five first place votes and 177 points overall. The Bluejays proved themselves worthy of such a spot on the poll Tuesday night, beating the renovated Dexter Bearcats on the road in a hostile environment.
"Very big win for us," said Charleston coach Danny Farmer after the game. "It's very difficult to win over here."
Farmer's son Ashton, a sophomore, paced the Bluejays with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Center Kewain Gant came up just one block short of a triple-double, finishing with 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine blocked shots.
The defending state champs in Class 1, Bell City, came in at No. 3 in the poll with 150 points. The Cubs routed Scott Central in their first game of the season Monday, 95-63 in the Oran Tournament.
Junior point guard Dominitrix Johnson scored 27 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in the win. Two-time all-stater Eric Henry contributed 20 points and had a game-high 20 rebounds. Bell City will have its mettle tested tonight, playing Class 1 rival Oran in the tournament at 8 p.m.
In at No. 4 on the poll is Dexter, who lost the 67-63 heartbreaker to Charleston on Tuesday.
"After seeing us play tonight, I think we have a good chance to win a lot of games this year," said Dexter coach Eric Sitze after the loss. "We have a lot of tough games to start our season. The good thing about this is that we're going to get better every game."
Behind Dexter is the Sikeston Bulldogs at No. 5, with 127 points. The Bulldogs are 0-2 on the year, opening the season with tough road games at Blytheville (Ark.) and Marion (Ill.)
Sikeston took Marion to double-overtime on Tuesday, but came up one point short.
Returning all-stater Lontas McClinton scored 29 points and pulled down 15 rebounds. Teammate Lavar Morgan had 22 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
In at No. 6 is the Portageville Bulldogs, who will open the season Friday night against Kennett. The Bulldogs return no starters from last year's 24-4 team. Twin Rivers is ranked No. 7 with 112 points. The Royals are 1-0 after clobbering Richland in the Oran Tournament 84-23.
Junior Jason Baucom led the way with 25 points, followed by senior Robbie Moore with 20 and freshman Michael Lance with 13.
Rounding out the Top 15 are Notre Dame at No. 8, Caruthersville at No. 9, Kennett at No. 10, Oran at No. 11, Jackson at No. 12, Advance at No. 13, NMCC at No. 14 and Doniphan at No. 15.
Other teams receiving votes included Farmington, Cape Central, North County and Arcadia Valley, who received one first place vote.