(Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
"We played pretty well," said Sikeston coach Gregg Holifield. "We came out with good energy, especially after a tough loss last night."
The Bulldogs wasted no time rebounding from their 74-69 overtime loss to Jackson on Thursday, racing out to an 8-2 lead to start the game and finishing the with a 33-15 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Bulldogs were hot from behind the arc, making their first five 3-pointers, including three from Matt Ritch.
"I came out and sometimes you are just feeling it," Ritch said. "Regardless of making or missing it, you've got to keep shooting and I was just lucky and hitting them tonight."
Ritch finished the game with four 3-pointers and as a team Sikeston was 8-
While Sikeston started out hot, they cooled off in the second quarter, only scoring six points, which Holifield attributed to bad shot selection.
"We came out really shooting it well and I think that probably led to a couple bad shots because we were a little anxious," Holifield said. "I think we had about four bad shots in the first half and other than that I think we were much more disciplined in the second half."
Ritch said that Holifield urged the Bulldogs at halftime not to have a second half letdown.
"Coach told us at halftime not to come out and lay an egg like we did against Jackson. So we came out and played hard, hit some big shots and played good defense and finally got it all working together," Ritch said.
Sikeston added on to their 15-point halftime lead in the third quarter, outscoring their rivals 26-12. Junior Michael Porter scored 12 points in the quarter, finishing with 25 in the game to go along with his 11 rebounds, six assists and three blocks.
Sikeston was able to add on to the score by handling the Notre Dame press which is known for causing numerous turnovers. However, Sikeston finished the game with only 12 turnovers.
"We handled the ball pretty well and that was a big key," Holifield said. "If you are going to win basketball games you can't turn the ball over and you have to make free throws. We've got to improve in those areas and I thought the turnover situation tonight was much better."
While the Sikeston offense was piling on points, the Bulldog defense was holding the Notre Dame scorers at bay. Playing without senior starters Ryan Willen and Austin Greer, Notre Dame was only able to put one player in double figures in Logan Glueck, who finished with 15. Sikeston was able to hold leading scorers Ty Williams and Marc Himmelberg to nine and five points respectively, with only two of those points coming in the second half.
"Instead of playing a half, we played both halves all the way through," Porter said. "It was a good win, but we know Notre Dame isn't at full strength and they were tired because they've been playing with only seven or eight players."
Besides Porter, Sikeston was led in scoring by Ritch's 16 and Brandon Washington's 10. Juqualin Wiggins finished the game with four points but chipped in 10 rebounds and eight assists.
Sikeston hit 35-of-58 shots in the game (60 percent) and pulled down 38 rebounds.
Holifield said the third place finish can be a building block for the rest of the season.
"It's going to take us a while," Holifield said. "We've only got one starter back from last year and it's going to take us some time. I think after Christmas we've got a chance to really put it together and have a good team. We just have to keep working and get better because we are really inexperienced in spots."
Sikeston (4-1) will be back in action Tuesday when they host South Pemiscot.
"Hopefully this will set the tone for the rest of the season," Ritch said. "It kind of woke us up, that last loss against Jackson. Hopefully we'll step up, keep playing hard and finish out the season strong when districts roll around."