(Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
PERRYVILLE -- One down, and one more to go for the Sikeston Bulldogs basketball team. The first contest for the Bulldogs in the Class 4 District 1 tournament is in the books as they defeated the Dexter Bearcats by a final score of 59-39.
For Sikeston, player after player repeatedly said after the game that it was a total team effort. Looking across the score sheet, it rings true, as seven Bulldogs got in on the action Wednesday evening at the Perry Parks Center in Perryville.
Sikeston began the game with a different look in the lineup, as Dominique McCray was out due to illness, and Brandon Washington, who has been battling and ankle injury was sidelined as well.
The Bearcats started out the first quarter by getting some open looks, and after Sikeston had established a 4-0 lead, Dexter battled back, swapping leads with the Bulldogs over the course of the first eight minutes.
After one quarter, Sikeston was on top 16-15.
In the second quarter, it was Wiggins again who stole the show for the Bulldogs, rattling off six points and grabbing a few rebounds for the No. 1 seed. Sikeston stretched its lead to nine points, eventually closing out the first half with the score at 28-21.
After the break, Cal Lane and Michael Porter began to heat up from the field, as Porter poured in six points, while Lane outscored him with seven of his own. The Bulldogs widened the gap to 16 points, when Wiggins once again hit a buzzer beater in the paint to make the lead 18. After three quarters, it was Sikeston 47, Dexter 29.
The Bearcats' Drew Kelley hit a couple of baskets and a free throw in the fourth quarter as Dexter tried to chip away at the lead, but Lane matched him point-for-point for the Bulldogs.
Sikeston managed to go on top by 22 points, 55-33, but a string of Bearcat baskets left the final score sitting at 59-39.
"I thought in the first half we came out a little jittery," said Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield. "We missed a lot of easy shots. Dexter played well and came out with a lot of intensity."
"In the second half we settled down and played much better," he added.
As mentioned, the Bulldogs have been hit with illness in the past few days, and Holifield said that his squad had to pull it together for the victory against the Bearcats.
"The flu's kind of hitting us," said Holifield. "Dominique McCray is out, Michael (Porter) is not feeling well, and of course Brandon (Washington) is out. The kids really stepped up though. Cal Lane came off the bench and did a great job, and Eli (Jackson) did a great job defending. Those guys really played well for us."
Holifield went on to say that his team had a lot of work to do to prepare for the championship game on Friday.
The Bulldogs were led by Wiggins, who scored 16 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. Lane and Porter scored 13 points apiece, and Lane added seven rebounds, while Porter chipped in with eight rebounds and five blocks.
For Dexter, the season has come to an end, as the Bearcats finish up the season with a 7-16 record.
"We did what we had to do defensively," said Dexter head coach Rob Nichols. "I don't think Sikeston shot the ball very well either. We didn't shoot the ball as well as we needed to, we just didn't play as well offensively as we had earlier."
"With their speed and athleticism, and their running at you, it's going to change a lot of shots," he added. "Our record could be a lot closer to .500 than it is, but we lost a lot of close ones. On a positive note, those kids never quit playing hard, and we had good practices all year. That's just a credit to those kids."
Sikeston, now 22-3, advances to their third straight district championship game where they will face Notre Dame. It will mark the third time this season the two teams have met as they face-off in the championship game at 7 p.m Friday at the Perry Parks Center in Perryville.
Notre Dame (19-6 and No. 8 in the state) rolled past Fredericktown 76-39 in the other semifinal game Wednesday night. Notre Dame built a 49-22 halftime lead and cruised in the second half to move into the finals against Sikeston.
Ryan Willen scored 25 points, including 19 in the first half when he knocked in four 3-pointers.
Austin Greer added 13.