METROPOLIS, Ill. -- The 19th Annual Superman Classic Tournament got under way on Monday night at Massac County High School in Metropolis, Ill.
The Sikeston Bulldogs lost their first round game, falling to a quick, athletic Madison, Ill., team 50-41.
Sikeston (7-6) will play on Thursday against Caruthersville at 6:30 p.m.
The Bulldogs had a poor showing in the first half, scoring just 11 points. Sikeston came back and made a run at the Trojans in the second half but ran out of time.
"I thought we came out in the first half and we weren't mentally prepared to play," said Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield. "They got a lead on us and we can't approach a game like that. I thought we were standing offensively and we didn't have a lot of energy defensively. They're a very athletic team, and if that happens you're going to allow them to score a lot of points."
Madison (9-6) never trailed in the game. They jumped out to an 8-2 lead and led 15-4 after one quarter. The Trojans appeared on the verge of blowing the Bulldogs out, leading 19-5 at one point and 23-11 at the half.
While the Bulldogs clamped down on the defensive end in the second half, the offense sputtered.
Sikeston couldn't hit open jumpers for most of the night. The Bulldogs were 3-of-15 from 3-point range and they were 15-of-46 (36 percent) overall from the field.
The Bulldogs also shot poorly from the free throw line, hitting just 8-of-18 and also missing two front ends of one-and-one attempts.
"They have tremendous size, but we had open looks many times and we couldn't knock the shots down," said Holifield. "I thought we were very sluggish in our offense. The bottom line is we didn't play very well."
The Bulldogs went scoreless for the first 5:05 of the third quarter while the Trojans built a 27-11 lead.
But Madison head coach Al Collins was no more pleased with his team's effort than Holifield.
"We won -- that's the best I can say. It was real ragged and real ugly," said Collins. "We didn't play very well but we played well enough. We were just fortunate to win this game tonight with all those turnovers."
The Bulldogs cut the gap to 32-20 entering the fourth quarter. Sikeston had chances to get back in the game but couldn't get closer than 10 for most of the final frame.
Finally, with less than three minutes remaining, Sikeston started chipping away at the lead, getting it to 38-32 with 2:14 left in the game.
But the Trojans hit their free throws down the stretch to seal the win, nailing 14-of-18 in the fourth quarter.
"Tonight we got the lead and I think we forgot we were playing an exceptionally good team," said Collins. "You can't relax with a team like that. We knew they were good because we've been reading things on the Internet about them. And we knew those kids were going to come alive in the second half. They gave us a heck of a game
"The win is a great one. We were fortunate the game ended when it did because they really caught on and got into a rhythm. We're very proud to move on to the next level."
Madison was led by 6-foot-8, 230-pound center Robert Kennedy with 13 points. Kennedy was also a force on the defensive end, blocking several shots and altering many others.
Travonti Walker followed up with 10 points.
Sikeston was led by Justin Freeman's 15 points, with 12 coming in the fourth quarter. Lontas McClinton added 13 points with 14 rebounds and three steals.
Tori Rose had a good defensive night with four steals.
"In the second half we really played well defensively," said Holifield. "Our pressure was good and the effort improved a great deal after halftime."
The host team Patriots took care of business from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, hitting all 12 attempts in the final 2:15 to pull out the win.
Caruthersville was hot from behind the arc, burying 8-of-18 from downtown, but it wasn't enough.
The Tigers were led by Bryant Rodgers with 24 points and Chris Springer with 19, including five 3-pointers.