The Lady Bulldogs were in the game all the way and had several opportunities to win, but a few crucial mistakes late allowed Twin Rivers to hold on for the close victory.
"We blew our chances," said Sikeston coach Lee Brooks. "We played them right down to the wire -- we just didn't execute as well as we should have. It was our game to lose, and we lost it."
Clinging to a four-point lead, Twin Rivers dropped into a stall with four minutes left on the clock. All-stater Amanda Lance dribbled the ball at the top of the key, passing every few seconds to teammate Amanda Trout out on the wing. The Lady Royals bled the clock down to 1:12 when Sikeston fouled Trout, sending her to the free throw line.
"We wanted to foul (Trout)," explained Brooks. "We didn't want to foul Lance, because she gets half of her points from the free throw line."
The move paid off for Sikeston as Trout missed both free throws. Sikeston quickly got the ball down the floor, finding Mia Welch on the baseline for an easy basket with 57 seconds left, shaving the lead down to 52-50.
The Lady Bulldogs then seemed to catch a break when Twin Rivers threw the ball away on their ensuing possession. But Sikeston didn't take advantage, immediately throwing it out of bounds to give the ball right back.
Allison Blurton fouled Trout with 27 seconds left, sending her back to the free throw line. Again she missed both attempts, but Lance came down with the rebound.
Instead of fouling Lance immediately, Sikeston tried to force a turnover. But too much time ticked off the clock and by the time the Lady Bulldogs committed a foul, there were only three seconds left.
Lance hit both free throws to make it 54-50, sealing the win. "I wouldn't want anybody else at the free throw line late in the ballgame," said Twin Rivers coach Jeff Walk. "She's going to make free throws."
Welch got off a 3-point shot at the buzzer but it was off its mark.
Lance led all scorers with 21 points. Trout finished with 11. Jessica Marshall and Candace Heath each scored eight for the Lady Royals.
"I didn't want to play Twin Rivers here because of the crowd," said Brooks. "I knew the sixth man would get into the game. We made some bad passes and some bad choices late. Most of these kids are sophomores, and it worries me when we get in tight games. They will make that extra step or that extra pass when they don't have to. It was a tough game, but we'll be back. (These young girls) will make some people suffer one of these days."
Sikeston played the final quarter and a half without point guard Paige Silverthorn. She left the game in the third period after a sprained ankle suffered in the first round of the tournament started acting up.
"She already had one sprained ankle, so now she's got two," said Brooks. "I didn't want to take a chance of her damaging it for good, so we sat her out."
The Lady Bulldogs were led by Welch and Blurton with 14 points each. Robyn Morris scored seven, Whitney McCray had six and Nyketia Johnson added four.
Jessica Jackson and Ebony Collins each scored two, and Silverthorn finished with one.
"Nyketia Johnson and Ebony Collins both played well tonight, and I can't praise Allison Blurton enough," said Brooks. "She just does her job every night."
Sikeston played Charleston in the third place game on Saturday. Results will be in Monday's paper.