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SHS is top dog

Sunday, December 18, 2005

(Photo)
Sikeston's Rod Moore tries to keep the ball away from Notre Dame defenders.
CAPE GIRARDEAU -- The Sikeston Bulldogs used balanced scoring and superior free throw shooting to defeat conference and district rival Notre Dame, 83-61, on Friday night at Notre Dame Regional High School.

It was the big win Sikeston needed heading into Christmas break. The Bulldogs won't play again until Jan. 3 when they travel to Caruthersville.

"This is a very nice win for us," said Sikeston coach Gregg Holifield. "This is always a tough place to play and Notre Dame has an outstanding team. We have great respect for coach (Paul) Hale and his program."

Sikeston never trailed in the game as they bolted out to a 15-3 first quarter lead.

Notre Dame never could overcome the early deficit as Sikeston steadily pulled away to a 45-25 halftime lead.

(Photo)
Sikestn's Blake Taylor dribbles past Notre Dame's Frankie Ellis.
"That was just too much to overcome," said Hale. "The game was over at halftime, but our goal was to try to beat them in the second half. We should have, but we missed two free throws and two layups right there at the end. It was an even second half, but the ballgame for all practical purposes was lost in the first half."

The Bulldogs led by as much as 28 early in the third quarter as they built a 55-27 lead, but Notre Dame kept the game from getting totally out of hand.

In fact, Notre Dame managed to cut the led to 63-47 with minute left in the third quarter.

They wouldn't get any closer than that though as Sikeston led 67-49 heading into the fourth quarter and led by 20 most of the way.

"It was just pretty poor shooting -- that was the difference in the ballgame," said Hale. "We struggled from everywhere. The free throw line, I think we missed 16 or 17 free throws. And Sikeston didn't. They shot the ball extremely well, especially from the free throw line. We had our chances, but it was just a poor shooting first half and that dug ourselves in a hole."

(Photo)
Notre Dame's Alex Ressel pulls down a rebound.
Notre Dame was just 14-of-29 from the free throw line.

For the third time in seven games, Sikeston (5-2, 2-0 SEMO Conference) had four different players reach double figures in scoring.

And the team shot a blistering 87 percent from the charity stripe, knocking down 26-of-30 on the night.

"We normally shoot free throws pretty well," said Holifield. "I think they've got a chance to be a really good free throw shooting team. That's one of our strengths I feel. We can put five or six players on the floor that can knock them down and that's to our advantage."

All told, it proved to be more than enough to offset foul problems and a rash of turnovers. Sikeston threw the ball away a season-high 28 times against Notre Dame's zone press.

The game's pace was frantic and wild giving Sikeston the feeling that its lead was never safe.

"I knew it would be this way because we both play up-tempo," said Holifield. "They really pressure and they're relentless. They play so hard and they never go away. We were careless. We had countless turnovers. We were fortunate to get out of here with a win. We'd get up 25 or 26 points and they'd cut it back to 16 or 17. They have a lot of character and pride about them, you knew they wouldn't go away."

The foul problems, namely to point guard Kash Bratcher and forward Michael Porter, allowed for several more minutes to Blake Taylor, Ray Rogers and Josh Porter, who all stepped up with big nights.

"The bench really came in with some big minutes," said Holifield. "Blake had some valuable time because Kash was in foul trouble and we needed the ball-

handling. Ray had some big minutes and had some big baskets. Josh is such a steady influence. He really plays within himself and he's a very smart player."

Taylor handled the ball well against the press as he kept turnovers to a minimum and scored five points and had three steals.

Rogers scored all nine of his points in the decisive second quarter as Sikeston out-scored Notre Dame 30-18 in the period.

Josh Porter didn't score, but grabbed three rebounds and played solid defense.

Rod Moore led the Bulldogs with 20 points with seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.

"He's a senior and has been a varsity player for three years now and he's been around," said Holifield of Moore. "He stepped up and really played well tonight."

Junior guard Julian Beard added 17 points (4-of-6 shooting) with nine rebounds, five steals and a blocked shot.

Bratcher had 13 points and junior Isaac Porter had 13 points with nine rebounds.

Michael Porter, despite his foul problems, had six points with seven rebounds, four assists, three blocked shots and three steals.

"This entire group plays well together as a team and they're getting better every day -- I like our team chemistry right now," said Holifield. "We can score in a hurry. We got some breaks and things went our way tonight."

It's Notre Dame's first loss of the season as they fall to 5-1 and 2-1 in conference play.

Sikeston's victory gives them the inside track on getting the top seed in Class 4, District 1.

"We both still have district teams to play," said Holifield. "That's what you're always striving for, to be as good as you can come district tournament time and put yourself in a position to have a good seed."

Notre Dame was led by Alex Ressel's game-high 22 points while 6-6 sophomore Ryan Willen added 11 points.

"I thought we played a lot better in the second half -- we clawed and scratched, but Sikeston was just a little better than us tonight," said Hale. "Sikeston's got a good team and we knew that. They deserved to win tonight and they're probably looking at the No. 1 seed in the district. I think we learned a few things tonight and learned what kind of intensity you've got to have against somebody that's physical. We got a few things done that I'm proud of."

The Sikeston J.V. team fell to 5-2 on the season with a 57-53 loss to Notre Dame, a team they beat for the championship in the Notre Dame J.V. Tournament.

Sikeston was led by Brandon Washington's 18 points, five rebounds and three steals. Dominique McCray had 10 points, four rebounds and five assists.

Richard Andrews followed up with nine points and three steals.