HAYTI - The Portageville Bulldogs advanced to the finals of the Bootheel Conference Tournament on Thursday with a 72-54 win over Caruthersville at Hayti High School.
Portageville will play Kennett (59-44 winners over Hayti) tonight at 7:30. The junior varsity championship, also between Portageville and Kennett will start at 6 p.m.
"We're pretty pleased," said Portageville head coach Jim Bidewell. "We made some mental mistakes and had several turnovers but it was a real physical ballgame. We knocked down several 3s and came out real hot in the first quarter."
Portageville (16-2 and ranked No. 5 in Class 2A) led 29-17 at the end of the first quarter.
The Bulldogs held Caruthersville to four points in the second quarter to lead 39-21 at halftime.
"We told them that we probably weren't going to finish the game shooting like we were in that first quarter -- we just hit everything we threw up," said Bidewell. "The problem with that was we were giving up quite a few points, and we were afraid that when we stopped shooting so well that they'd catch up. So our defensive intensity really stepped up in that second quarter."
The second half was played even but the damage was already done.
Both teams hit eight 3-pointers in the game.
Caruthersville was led by Bryant Rodgers' 23 points and Chris Springer's 11.
The Bulldogs were led by Eric Booker's season-high 24 points. J.T. Williams added 14 and Dantwan Chillers had 11.
"(Booker has) been pretty steady for us," said Bidewell.
"Tonight he just stepped his game up above and beyond than what he's been playing. He not only shot it well, he controlled the boards and did a lot of things defensively for us."
Portageville will try to avenge a loss to Kennett in the season opener when the Indians hit a 3-point shot at the buzzer to win the game.