SIKESTON - The 30th Annual Sikeston Invitational Tournament resumed on Tuesday at the Sikeston Field House.
In a first round game, No. 3 seeded Poplar Bluff blew past No. 6 Doniphan 80-52, No. 4 Sikeston eliminated No. 8 Cape Central 66-57 in the consolation semifinals, and in the championship semifinals, No. 1 New Madrid County Central defeated Blytheville 58-43.
Sikeston improved to 3-3 with the win, advancing to the consolation championship on Friday at 5:30 where they will play the winner of Thursday's Charleston-Doniphan game.
It appeared though, that the Bulldogs would be nothing more than gracious hosts after the Tigers built a 13-point lead in the third quarter.
But like in Monday night's loss to Blytheville, the Bulldogs rallied in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Tigers 23-11 to pull out the win.
"I thought we really played well in the fourth quarter," said Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield. "We made some shots, that was the biggest thing. Throughout the course of the game we missed some looks that we normally knock down. When you're not hitting your shots you have a tendency to look like you're standing."
Sikeston's rally actually began late in the third quarter. Trailing 43-30, the Bulldogs ended the quarter on a 13-3 run sparked by a pair of Justin Freeman 3-pointers.
A 3-pointer by Lavar Morgan closed the gap to 46-42, and all of a sudden the Bulldogs were back in the game.
In the fourth quarter, Sikeston remained close, but couldn't take the lead until Morgan's 3-pointer with 2:34 left gave the Bulldogs a 56-55 edge.
Morgan added another trey 30 seconds later to give the Bulldogs the lead for good at 59-57.
"We had talked about how well Morgan shot the ball," said Cape Central head coach Derek McCord. "He didn't really prove it until late in the game when it counted. He steps out and hits two threes and they took the lead on us. We tried to really work on taking away the dribble penetration, which I thought we did a great job, but on the other side of the coin we gave up open looks."
Sikeston ended the game on a 10-0 run.
Sikeston led 15-12 after one quarter but the Tigers took control of the game in the second quarter.
Not even a Lontas McClinton slam dunk was enough to get the Bulldogs going, as the Tigers followed that up with a 7-0 run to take the lead at 23-19. They didn't lose the lead until the fourth quarter.
"We're young and we made some bad decisions late," said McCord.
"We need practice time. But I don't think anybody in the area has played a tougher schedule. We could very easily be 3-1 instead of 1-3. We lost a very tight one to Perryville and we lost a tight one here. I'm real proud of where we're at right now and I think we're going to be a force to be reckoned with in the coming years. I think the future is very bright for Cape Central basketball."
The Tigers were led by senior Matt Cardin with 15 points. Sophomore Ryan Delph had 14 points and sophomore Mitch Craft had 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Sikeston was led by McClinton's game-high 22 points (10-of-14 shooting) with four steals. Eight of his points came during the pivotal fourth quarter. Freeman scored all 12 of his points in the second half.
Lawrence Davis added eight assists with three steals.
"Our intensity wasn't where it needed to be early but our kids battled back and it's a big win for us," said Holifield.
"We've played four games in five days and we basically just need some practice time. I thought Cape Central really played well, especially for the first three quarters. Coach McCord's got them on the right track. After Christmas I think they're going to be a fine basketball team."
The Mules improved to 4-0 on the season with an impressive victory over Doniphan (1-1).
Poplar Bluff led 17-11 after one quarter and ran the Dons out of the gym in the second quarter, outscoring them 29-6.
The Mules led 46-17 at the half and 62-29 entering the fourth quarter.
"I thought the first couple of minutes we were a little sluggish -- but I got on them early and then we stepped it up and got after them defensively in the second quarter," said Poplar Bluff head coach John David Pattillo. "Doniphan has been a thorn in our side. They have always played us well. Since I've been here they've beaten us three times and we've beaten them twice, and it usually comes down to a last second shot."
But not this time. The Mules dominated every aspect of the game. Substitutes played the entire fourth quarter.
Shayne Talburt and Brett Reed led Doniphan with 12 points each.
Poplar Bluff was led by 6-foot-6 freshman Tyler Hansbrough with 17 points. Cheron Pearson added 14 for the Mules, who placed 11 different players in the scoring column.
"This is a really tough tournament," said Pattillo. "We played at Farmington last week, but this is a different style of tournament. There aren't a lot of fouls called here, but up there it's a lot tighter."
Poplar Bluff will play Kennett in the championship semifinals on Thursday at 7 p.m.
The Chickasaws gave the two-time defending Sikeston Invitational champions a scare for a half, but the Eagles were too tough in the second half.
With the score tied 25-25 at halftime, NMCC (3-0) went on a 16-2 run in the third quarter to put the game away.
"I felt our intensity level was low in the first half," said NMCC head coach Joby Holland.
"We didn't play as hard as we should've and I didn't feel like our kids were ready to play. Our back was against the wall and they came out and played with a lot of intensity and that showed the character and heart that they had."
The Eagles used their balanced scoring to get by the Chickasaws in the second half. But NMCC's work on the glass was the telling point in the game.
Blytheville head coach David Hixson pointed to his team's poor shooting in the second half as one of the reasons for his team's lack of rebounding.
"The fact that we didn't make many shots in the third quarter hurt us, and I think that affected us on the defensive end," said Hixson.
"That's kind of been our demise this season, if we're not shooting the basketball well then we struggle. They manufactured points out of second chance opportunities and they had some transition buckets when we were crashing the offensive boards."
NMCC was led in scoring by senior guard Dereke Tipler with 14 points. He was followed by 6-foot-7 senior Derrell Minner with 12 points and Terrance Smith with 10.
Blytheville (3-4) was led by Sherrick Sherman's 11 points.
"I can't say enough about Coach Hixson," said Holland. "I think he's as fine a man and as fine a coach as there is. He does an excellent job with his kids and they're always prepared. I'm tickled to be in the championship game. We'll have a tough one whichever way it turns out."
The Chickasaws led 8-6 after one quarter of play, but the Eagles were able to tie the score by halftime.
"Our energy level had to be extremely high with this outfit, because they've got such a size advantage and they're all extremely good athletes," said Hixson.
"I thought we did that in the first half, but we just didn't shoot it well in the third period and that affected our energy level. And they certainly picked up the pace and we didn't match it."
Blytheville will play the loser of the Poplar Bluff-Kennett game on Friday at 7 p.m.