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Friday, Nov. 21, 2014

Town rallying around Sikeston basketball

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

(Photo)
Scott Jenkins changes the marquee sign at FasGas Tuesday afternoon to show suppoert for the Sikeston Bulldog basketball team.
SIKESTON -- From November to now Sikeston High School senior Tyler Wallace has frequently been found sitting court side and rooting for his peers during weekly basketball games.

And this weekend will be no exception.

Wallace, along with hundreds of others, will support the Sikeston Bulldogs as they make a final four appearance in boys basketball at Columbia -- their first in 11 years.

"There's buzz around the basketball team, and they've got our full support, especially since we get out of school Friday," Wallace said Tuesday after school. "We've got a special assembly planned Thursday for the players so we're doing special things to get them ready to go and get pumped."

Whether devoted seasonal fans like Wallace or bandwagon jumpers, most will agree a little positive support for the home team will go a long way.

"I'm proud of the team, the school and their spirit," said Michelle Wessling, who is heading to Columbia this weekend with her family.

Wessling, whose daughter is a Red Pepper at Sikeston High School and son attends Sikeston Junior High, said she's seen plenty of spirit by students and parents -- from positive messages painted on car windows and printed on T-

shirts to everyone wearing red and black at the games.

In addition to attending games, some local businesses and residents are showing their support through signs this week. For example, an electronic sign at Montgomery Bank in Sikeston features the message: "Congratulations, Sikeston Bulldogs, and good luck in the final four!"

"We believe in education and the athletic department, and we think it's important to show support locally," said Michelle Worth, regional sales manager for Montgomery Bank.

Since the beginning of the season, Montgomery Bank in Sikeston has displayed in a glass case large pictures of this year's Sikeston High School's girls and boys basketball teams.

"We feel we're residents in Sikeston and live in the community, and our children go to the schools here so it's important to show support for the students," said Worth about Montgomery Bank. "And we, as business owners, should support these people, especially. I hope the basketball team knows we're with them."

Worth said several of the bank's employees are traveling to Columbia this weekend to cheer for Sikeston.

"We've got lots of parents who have students in high school and have been to every single game, showing support and spirit," Worth said. "And a lot of these people have gone to school in Sikeston and are now raising their children through the Sikeston school system."

Wessling also thinks it's a good idea for businesses to display their support on marquee signs. "When they see visual things, I think that's the only way they see support," she said about the players.

And in today's Standard Democrat, readers can find signs for Sikeston residents and businesses owners to place (in a nonobstructive way) in their cars or windows.

Throughout the season, Wallace said he rooted for his team while sitting with the school's Bleacher Bums during games to support the team.

"We cheer and chant during home games, especially. And there's a lot we can't do now that it's the state competition," Wallace said.

During state tournaments, the Missouri State High School Activities Association encourages positive cheering and enthusiasm for a fan's own team and no negative actions toward the opponent.

As a result, signs, posters, banners (other than a school banner), pom pons (except those used by cheerleaders), towels to wave, big fingers are among things discouraged by MSHSAA. And things like stomping in the bleachers, waving hands behind the basket during free throws to distract the shooter or rushing the court after any game are discouraged.

There's a history for each of the items prohibited or discouraged by MSHSAA, said Rick Kindhart, assistant executive director of MSHSAA. For example, signs are discouraged because MSHSAA wants to ensure everyone can see during the game, he said.

"The primary thing we would want players, spectators or students to be cognitive of is to keep respect of what they're doing," said Kindhart. "We want people to show support and do it in a positive way."

Wallace said the students have already learned some of the state's dos and don'ts this post-season, particularly after being informed by referees.

"And we practiced no signs during the regular season because our school administrators wouldn't let us bring posters and that prepared us for the post-season," Wallace said.

But rules won't stop the fans from showing their good spirit, Wallace assured. And it helps to have a winning team, he added.

"I'm sure half the town will end up going and we'll have plenty of support," Wallace said. "We have a good offense and defense. Our team will have a tough time, but we'll give them a run for their money."

Sikeston faces Ozark at 12:10 p.m. Friday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.