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Sikeston sluggish in opener

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. -- The Sikeston Bulldogs basketball team opened its season in Arkansas on Tuesday night with a 62-40 loss to the Blytheville Chickasaws.

The Bulldogs looked like a team playing its first game of the season as they shot just 16-of-43 (37 percent) from the field, while connecting on just 3-of-15 from 3-point range.

Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield wasn't too surprised with the poor shooting night.

"I expected that, I knew our shooting was going to struggle," said Holifield. "But I just thought we'd have a little more energy and a little more effort and I thought we'd do a better job on the boards."

The Chickasaws, playing their third game of the season, controlled the boards and were a step faster than the Bulldogs to loose balls.

Blytheville also shot lights out from the free throw line, hitting 20-of-24 for the game, including 13-of-14 in the decisive fourth quarter.

"Blytheville really played well, you have to give them a lot of credit," said Holifield. "They were outstanding offensively and defensively. They took us out of whatever we wanted to do. It didn't matter if they were in a zone or a man. We were standing, we were very sluggish. We just didn't do a good job of moving the basketball. We were very weak offensively."

Early on the game was a defensive war.

Blytheville led 13-6 after one quarter before the Bulldogs battled back to trim the lead to 23-21 at the half.

The Bulldogs were still trailing just 29-27 with 4:15 left in the third quarter before the Chickasaws began pulling away.

Jonathan Jacobs deflated the Bulldogs with a 3-pointer at the third quarter buzzer, which opened up a 40-30 lead for the Chicks.

David Williams buried a 3-pointer on Blytheville's opening possession of the fourth quarter to make it 43-30.

Sikeston pulled as close as 44-35 with 6:07 left in the game but a 12-0 run by the Chickasaws put the game away.

"We're still inexperienced, but having two games under our belt really helped us," said Blytheville head coach David Hixson. "This being their first game obviously is a big advantage for us. We kind of know a little about ourselves."

The Bulldogs were led offensively by Lavar Morgan's 16 points.

Lontas McClinton, a returning all-stater, was surrounded by the Chickasaws' zone defense and managed just 12 points with four rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

"He's a big-time player and he's a great athlete, there's no doubt about it, along with some of the other ones they've got," said Hixson. "Our big thing was to not let them get into a rhythm. They've got some really good players and I thought we did a decent job of keeping them out of sync."

Blytheville was led by sophomore John Fowler's 20 points, including 12-of-15 from the free throw line.

Daniel Smith added 13 points.

"We stood around on defense, we were allowing them to cut on us," said Holifield. "We were a step slow in about everything we did. Hopefully it just has to do with the first game situation. We're going to work really hard to try to correct these situations."

Sikeston will play another road game on Tuesday when they travel to Marion, Ill. The Bulldogs' first home game will be on Friday, Dec. 6 when they host the Dexter Bearcats.

The Bulldogs' jayvee team improved to 2-0 on the season with a 53-32 victory against Blytheville.

Sikeston raced out to a 17-6 first quarter lead and was never threatened. The Bulldogs led 35-15 at the half. They led by as much as 43-17 in the third quarter.

Sikeston was led by Apollo Patterson's 12 points, four rebounds and two assists. Felante Larry had 10 points, three rebounds, four assists and four steals. Josh Alvarado added eight points with five rebounds.

Jason Shipp led Blytheville with 16 points. Brandon Wimbley added 12 points.

Sikeston's junior varsity will play against Farmington tonight in the Notre Dame Junior Varsity Tournament in Cape Girardeau at 8:15.