(Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- The Sikeston Bulldogs began their SEMO Conference Tournament Tuesday night as they edged out a win over a stubborn Poplar Bluff Mules team 61-50.
For a second-straight game this season Sikeston had to depend on a big second half from their inside game to pull away for the victory when a slow first two quarters found the Bulldogs up at the half by only one point (23-
"We were not very good offensively in the first half," said Sikeston head coach Greg Holifield. "We were doing a lot of standing, we weren't cutting or screening and we can't play that way. Overall we got another win but we have got to be more aggressive than that."
The Mules, who relying mostly on their outside shooting game, managing to knock down two 3-pointers in the first quarter as both teams headed towards the second quarter with the low score of 8-6 in favor of Sikeston.
"We came out with bad shot selection in the first quarter," said Holifield. "It really hampered our offense, shooting quick shots."
In the second quarter, Poplar Bluff rallied behind junior guard Jordan Chaligoj, who hit back-to-back 3-pointers putting the Mules up 18-10. At this juncture, Sikeston realized they couldn't take their sixth-seeded opponent lightly as they answered back with a seven point run of their own. Behind the post presence of 6-6 junior Michael Porter, the Bulldogs began to take advantage of the inside game as they gained the one point lead at the half.
Holifield implied that the first half tempo was dictated by Poplar Bluff's style of play, causing problems for the Bulldogs.
However, it all turned in the second half as the mediocre first half turned into patented Bulldog basketball with smothering defense, great ball movement, and good post play. Sikeston began the quarter with a 9-0 run and never looked back as 24 points in the third proved to be enough for the Bulldogs who clamped down on both sides of the ball for the rest of the game.
"I really thought in the third quarter we really made a nice adjustment of looking in and getting the ball inside," said Holifield. "That's where its got to go, bottom line for us to be good. I thought we were much better with shot selection and we built a 20 point lead although we kind of fizzled at the end."
Sikeston was lead by Porter with 26 points, three blocks and four steals. Juqualin Wiggins also got in on the action with nine points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Jordan Chaligoi carried the load for the Mules with 16 points and four 3-
pointers while Jay Raulston added 11 points with one 3-pointer.
Next up for the Bulldogs (3-0) will be a semifinal match up against the second-seeded Jackson Indians. Tip off will be tossed at 7:30 Thursday night. Poplar Bluff (0-2) will try to bounce back tonight when they play the Cape Central Tigers in the consolation bracket at 8:30 p.m.
Top-seeded Notre Dame survived a scare from the Dexter Bearcats Tuesday night, 65-59.
Dexter led for most of the game, taking a 50-48 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs' Ty Williams hit three straight 3-pointers to put Notre Dame ahead for good.
Williams and Mark Himmelberg each scored 18 for the Bulldogs with both knocking down four 3-pointers in the game. John Unterreiner chipped in 11.
Dexter was led by Logan Carwile's 19 points while Kevin Hart and Drew Kelley scored 12 and 11 respectively.
Dexter will play New Madrid County Central tonight at 7 p.m. in the consolation game while Notre Dame advances to play Charleston Thursday night at 6 p.m.
Jackson jumped out to a 12-0 lead to begin the game and never looked back, cruising past Cape Central 58-38.
Jake Leet led Jackson with 16 points and Hunter Grantham chipped in 11 while Jajuan Bell led Cape Central with 11 points.