CAPE GIRARDEAU - The Sikeston Bulldogs picked up another big SEMO Conference win on the road on Friday night by defeating the Cape Central Tigers 55-42 at Tiger Field House.
The win by the Bulldogs spoiled the Tigers' homecoming and also the farewell celebration to the final game in the Field House, also called the "Orange Bowl."
Cape Central will be moving into a brand new high school next year.
A huge crowd was on hand to witness the Tigers' final game at a building that served as their home court since 1977.
"We knew it was going to be tough on the road, especially with it being the last game at the Field House," said Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield. "They were very emotional and they came out and played with a lot of intensity. They shot the basketball well and we were fortunate to get out of there with a win."
Sikeston (13-9, 4-2 SEMO Conference) had its work cut out for them against a fired up Tigers team. But in the end, Sikeston's inside-outside presence was too much.
The Bulldogs hit 11 free throws in the fourth quarter to ice the victory.
"Their athleticism wore on us in the fourth quarter a little bit," said Cape Central head coach Derek McCord. "Take away the 3s that we allowed Justin Freeman to get, and we played a tremendous game defensively. I felt we played about as good as we could defensively. We did a good job on Lontas McClinton, who's a tremendous player."
Freeman nailed four 3-pointers in the first half to help the Bulldogs build a lead. He finished with a game-high 16 points.
"Justin's such an outstanding shooter," said Holifield. "He had open looks and he's going to knock those down more often than not. That set the tone for the game."
Cape Central (4-18, 0-7 SEMO) held its last lead of the game at 5-3 on a Corey Bowman 3-pointer. The Bulldogs led 13-8 after one quarter of play.
The Bulldogs extended the lead to 21-10 with less than a minute left in the first half but the Tigers ended the quarter on a 5-0 run to make it 21-15 at halftime.
"The first quarter and the first couple minutes of the second quarter I thought our intensity was outstanding," said Holifield. "We got into a little bit of foul trouble and that took some of our intensity away. We just have to maintain that and keep working."
The Tigers didn't score a field goal in the second quarter until Ryan Delph hit a shot with 45 seconds left.
Delph led the Tigers with 11 points and nine rebounds.
"People know he's our best player and he's still getting it done," said McCord. "He's been such a consistent player."
The Tigers kept he game close throughout the second half, trailing just 33-29 entering the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs finally started pulling away when Lavar Morgan hit a 3-pointer with 5:15 left in the game to make it 40-31.
"We handled the late-game situations very well that we had struggled with earlier in the season," said Holifield. "So I feel like we're getting better in that area."
Cape Central resorted to fouling the rest of the way but the Bulldogs capitalized from the line. The Tigers had opportunities to close the gap but could only hit 4-of-9 free throws in the fourth quarter.
"If we hit some free throws down the stretch then it comes down to the wire," said McCord. "That was the difference in the game tonight. We've struggled scoring all year long. A lot of times we've been able to create offense from our defensive pressure. We didn't get as many turnovers tonight and you have to give Sikeston credit there."
The Bulldogs turned the ball over just six times on the night. Sikeston also out-rebounded the Tigers 29-23.
McClinton led the Bulldogs with 10 rebounds to go with his 12 points. Morgan also scored 12 points with four assists.
Other good contributors for Sikeston were Michael Colon (8 points, 6 rebounds), Lawrence Davis (6 assists) and Ben Anderson (4 points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocked shots).
After Delph, no other Tiger player reached double figures.
"We're playing a lineup with basically a jayvee roster but they keep getting better and better," said McCord. "We're not worried about numbers or records. We're worried about laying a foundation. We've got knowledgeable fans and this was a great atmosphere tonight. The kids appreciate the way the fans have stuck with us and supported us."
Sikeston will host New Madrid County Central on Tuesday at 6 p.m. Cape Central will travel to Charleston on Tuesday at 6 p.m. Both games are SEMO Conference matchups.
The Sikeston jayvee team fell to 11-8 on the season with a 57-56 loss to Cape Central.
Sikeston led throughout the game but couldn't hold on in the end.
Freddie Wiggins led Sikeston with 19 points and nine rebounds. Apollo Patterson followed up with 11 points while Lance Rhodes added nine.
James Dalton led Cape Central with 22 points. Wayne Wiggins followed up with 11 points.