(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- After Tuesday night's results in Jackson, anything but a solid win on Friday night would have been a disappointment for the Bulldogs. In order to do so they would have to take care of a tough Kelly Hawks team who came in with a winning game plan. But in the end, the Bulldogs athleticism proved to be too much to slow down as they cruised to a 76-43.
"They had a great game plan," said Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield. "Kelly did a great job of coming out, trying to control the tempo. They were really patient on offense and played as hard as any team we've played all year. Coach Wills has done a great job with them."
The Bulldogs jumped out quick to a 7-3 advantage but the resilient Hawks battled back, tying the game at 7-7 and eventually taking a lead at 11-9 after a Josh Rodgers basket. Kelly would then try to slow down the tempo of the game as they worked the ball around, waiting for open opportunities. In result, limiting chances for the Bulldogs on the other end of the court.
"I'm really proud of our kids. We came in and we executed our game plan," said Kelly head coach Nathan Wills. "We wanted to try and slow the game down and play our tempo because Sikeston is a phenomenal team. And really for a while we did that."
However, the home team wouldn't let this go unnoticed as Sikeston began working on trapping the Kelly ball handlers, taking the Hawks out of rhythm. This would help the Bulldogs to regain the lead, eventually allowing them to take a 18-13 lead going to the second quarter after Dominique McCray hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The McCray 3-pointer was just in time as it sparked a 7-0 run for the home team, giving Sikeston their biggest lead at 22-13.
The rally was capped off by 5-10 senior Matt Ritch with floater in the lane but while the tempo just seemed to be picking up the home team so was the play of Ritch. In his third game back after coming off a minor surgery, the senior finally seemed to find his stroke as two 3-pointers in second quarter would lift his team to a 37-24 lead at halftime.
"After getting back from the injury, I've been shooting a little extra in practice and it finally seemed to pay off tonight," said Ritch. "You just get in a rhythm and sometimes they go down, sometimes they don't but they where going down tonight."
Both teams came out of the locker room at half time, trading baskets for most of the third quarter with the home team taking a slight advantage, outscoring the Hawks 21-17.
With a 17-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter, 58-41, Kelly was still not ready to throw in the towel. But the Bulldogs had no intention of allowing the visiting team of climbing back in it after 6-3 junior Cal Lane and 6-0 senior Sherwin Jones each connected on two 3-pointers to trigger a 16-0 run, highlighted with a Lane slam dunk, to seal the game. "You know everybody thinks Sikeston can't shoot, but they made a believer out of me and Coach Amick for sure," said Wills. "I'm sure Coach Holifield will hope that people will keep thinking that because they can knock shots down. They're not just post players, and that's what makes them dangerous."
Sikeston out-rebounded the Hawks 28-15 for the game while only committing 11 turnovers. The home team had 10 different players score in the game Friday. All-stater Michael Porter had 14 points, six rebounds and three blocks in the win. Jones and Lane also got in the double digits, with Jones hitting three 3-pointers to go with his 13 points and Lane hitting two, to go with his 10 points.
But it was Ritch who lead all scores with 15 points and three 3-pointers.
"They came out playing hard and we knew they were going to," said Ritch. "But in the second half we just stayed consistent and started hitting our shots well. It was a good win but we got to keep practicing hard and get better."
Kelly was lead by Josh DeBrock with 14 points and three 3-pointers.
The Bulldogs (14-3) next game was Saturday against Portageville. Results will be in Monday's edition of the Standard Democrat. The Hawks (8-10) will try to bounce back Tuesday when they host the Braves of Scott Central. Tip off will be tossed at 6 p.m.
In junior varsity action, Sikeston came away with similar results, beating Kelly 69-29. Will Holifield lead the way with 14 points and three 3-pointers while Eli Jackson and C.J. Council each had nine.