(Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- As the weather was slushy and brisk outside, the Sikeston Bulldogs warmed up the crowd Friday evening by defeating the Poplar Bluff Mules on Homecoming night, 87-62.
The game began with a sour taste for the Bulldogs, as Michael Porter was whistled for two quick fouls by the 6:04 mark in the first quarter.
Sikeston led 15-14 after the first quarter, and went into the break tied with Poplar Bluff 33-33.
For the Mules, Riley Raulston was busy in the first half, as he racked up 18 points, including two 3-pointers.
In the second half, Porter stole the show from Raulston, as he cashed in for 11 points in the third quarter.
As the clock began winding down in the third, Sikeston led by just five points, 50-45, but wouldn't allow Poplar Bluff to get any closer, as they led 56-47 heading to the fourth quarter.
Sherwin Jones and Cal Lane began raining 3's in the fourth quarter, as the two combined for 15 points in the final 8:00. The Bulldogs rapidly pulled away as they outscored the Mules 31-15 in the fourth, rolling to victory 87-
"I thought in the second half, we made some good adjustments," he added. "We played with better intensity offensively and defensively, and played much better."
The win was Sikeston's third victory over Poplar Bluff this season, and the fifth consecutive victory overall against their conference opponent.
"I felt like if we could play well for an extended period of time, I thought we could give ourselves a chance to win," said Poplar Bluff head coach Lamont Frazier. "They (Sikeston) kind of blew that thought right at the beginning of the third quarter."
The damaging blow Frazier mentioned, was a 4-0 run, followed by another run that left the Bulldogs up by 11 points after a Porter highlight move in the paint.
Porter finished on top for Sikeston, with a double-double, racking up 23 points and 10 rebounds, despite playing most of the game in foul trouble.
On the topic of Porter, Frazier wasn't hesitant to speak highly of the Sikeston standout.
"He's averaging 20 something points a game," said Frazier. "What are you going to do? They know how to get him the basketball, and he knows how to finish. He's done it against a lot of people. He's a good player."
Porter said he is just glad that things are heading in the right direction for the Bulldogs.
"I'm just glad this team is coming together," said Porter. "We're coming together good. I think we'll be ready (for districts)."
Aside from Porter, Jones was the second-leading scorer for the home-team with 16 points.
"I think they (Sikeston) are starting to hit stride," said Frazier. "To me, they are their own worst enemy."
Sikeston improves to 16-3 on the season, and 4-1 in conference play, while Poplar Bluff falls to 8-13, with a 2-3 conference record.
For the visiting Mules, Riley Raulston finished with the game-high of 25 points, including five rebounds. Jay Raulston wasn't too far behind with 15 points and four rebounds.
Both teams were solid shooting from beyond the arc, as the Bulldogs went 6-
for-9, while Poplar Bluff finished 4-for-8.
Sikeston finished with an overall percentage of 53% from the field.
The shooting percentage wasn't all that looked great for the Bulldogs. As a team, Sikeston finished with 30 rebounds and 12 blocks, four of which came from Brandon Washington.
"We picked it up in the second half," said Washington. "I'm a senior post player, and I had to step up. I think we played hard."
The Bulldogs will have a chance to keep the winning streak alive, as they travel to Caruthersville Monday evening. Sikeston has won three straight, and nine of their last 10 games.