FREDERICKTOWN - After two lopsided losses coming out of Christmas break, the Sikeston Bulldogs were needing to get on the winning track.
They got the big win they needed as they defeated Fredericktown on the road 56-42 to improve to 5-5 on the season.
The win against the Blackcats, who are in the Bulldogs' district, also could provide Sikeston with a favorable seed in the district tournament in February.
Sikeston never trailed in the contest as they led 13-11 after one quarter and pushed the game into double figures in the second quarter.
Fredericktown rallied in the third quarter but never got closer than seven points.
"I don't think the game was ever in question," said Fredericktown head coach Brett Reutzel. "When it was 13-11 I felt real good but when it got away, up to 18 or 20, I knew the lights were getting dim. I was real proud that we fought back to get it to seven and who knows if we could've gotten it to five or four."
Sikeston built the early lead to 11-5 on a Joel Nabors steal and slam dunk. But the Blackcats were able to finish the quarter strong to cut the lead to 13-11 after one.
Sikeston then exploded in the second quarter, out-scoring the Blackcats (3-10) 20-6. Sikeston led 33-11 at one point but Fredericktown finished the quarter on a 6-0 run to cut the halftime lead to 33-17.
They carried the momentum into the third quarter as the Blackcats steadily chipped away at the lead making it 41-32 heading into the fourth.
Fredericktown scored to make it 41-34 at the beginning of the final frame but wouldn't get any closer as Sikeston pushed the lead back to double figures.
Sikeston point guard Kash Bratcher scored a season-high 21 points, including five 3-pointers. He also had five assists and six steals.
"There was always an answer for our runs, whether it was the pressure defensively that would cause a turnover or Kash hitting a 3," said Reutzel. "He's tough. We know we've got to guard him, but at the same time we can't come out and guard him man to man. We just have to let him shoot it."
Most of the early damage was done by junior forward Rod Moore, who scored 12 of his 16 points in the first half to go with his eight rebounds.
"In the first half we really played well," said Sikeston coach Gregg Holifield. "We got off to a big lead and did some really good things offensively and defensively. Kash was very productive on the offensive end and so was Rod early in the game. We basically put ourselves into a position to get a nice lead. We did it with our defensive pressure to create turnovers and knocking down big shots."
Sikeston's pressure defense caused 15 steals which led to some transition baskets.
Fredericktown was led by 6-foot-5 D.J. Groves' 13 points, all coming in the second half.
The Blackcats played without 6-4 standout D.J. Hinkle, who is nursing an ankle injury.
"It was a big win for us considering they are a district team," said Holifield. "You need to win as many district games as you can and that puts us into a position to hopefully get a pretty good seed. We'll just have to wait and see. More importantly it's a big win for us on the road."
Sikeston will play at Scott City on Friday at 6 p.m.
Sikeston's junior varsity team improved to 3-7 on the season with a 52-25 win against Fredericktown.
Sikeston led 6-5 after the first quarter before dominating the rest of the way. They led 23-9 at the half and 36-19 heading into the fourth quarter.
Sikeston was led by Blake Taylor's 16 points. Cortne Beasley had 14 points with five rebounds and seven steals. Andrew Sales had eight rebounds.