The Bulldogs overcame a sluggish start and rallied with a big third quarter to pull out the victory.
It wasn't picturesque, but Sikeston coach Gregg Holifield had nothing but praise for Kelly.
"They did a great job and you have to give them credit," said Holifield. "You talk about a great atmosphere, Kelly High School takes a lot of pride in what they do. Every time you come here it's a tough place to play. They were energetic and they did a great job. Coach (Cory) Johnson did a great job in preparing them. I'm proud of our kids also. They came in here in a great atmosphere and they stepped it up and pulled it out."
Sikeston led 49-40 heading into the fourth quarter and withstood a furious 3-point barrage by the Hawks in the final frame.
Kelly got as close as three points on three different occasions, including with nine seconds left, but Sikeston's Matt Ritch iced the victory with a pair of free throws with seven seconds left.
"The effort was there all night," said Johnson. "We matched their intensity level. We just made a few mistakes here and there. They capitalized late and they knocked down their free throws."
The Hawks have had an up and down season this year. But Friday night, they seemed to have all the answers -- at least early.
Kelly (8-10) jumped out to a 9-2 lead forcing Holifield to burn an early timeout. The Hawks led by as much as 13-4 after a Spencer Ayers basket with 2:27 to play in the first quarter.
Sikeston (10-7) managed to slice the lead to 13-9, but Kelly extended it to 16-9 after one quarter.
Both teams battled foul problems in the first half, in which the two teams combined for 22 fouls and 34 free throw attempts.
"I thought it was a little touchy early in the game," said Johnson. "Both teams got to 10 fouls pretty quick. We got to the free throw line and we kept it close in the first half."
Sikeston led through most of the second quarter, holding a four-point lead at two junctures, but Kelly scored six straight points to close out the half, including a Spencer Ayers jump-hook at the buzzer to give the Hawks a 33-31 lead at halftime.
With the game being called so tight, Holifield said defensive adjustments had to be made at the half.
"We weren't in a stance and we were reaching and hacking, and I thought we did a much better job in the second half," said Holifield. "We started guarding them and we weren't fouling."
The Bulldogs took control of the game in the third quarter, out-scoring the Hawks 18-7 in the period.
The Bulldogs took a 49-40 lead into the third quarter, but Kelly's Kyle Chipman kept it close with four 3-point shots in the final period.
In a wild final two minutes, Chipman hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 56-53. Sikeston's Ray Rodgers answered with an inside basket after the Bulldogs ran off more than a minute of clock.
Kelly's Tyler Thurman cut the lead back to 58-55 with a reverse layup, but Sikeston's Michael Porter took the inbounds and went coast-to-coast for a layup to push the lead back to five with 35 seconds left.
Josh DeBrock scored a reverse layup with nine seconds left to make it a 3-
point game once again. Ritch then sank both his free throws to clinch the win.
The Hawks drained seven 3-pointers in the game, including a few where Sikeston defenders were in good position.
"I thought we did a pretty good job of checking their shots and they just made some tough shots," said Holifield. "They got their confidence going and they played with confidence."
Porter had trouble scoring against the bigger, stronger Hawks' frontcourt, but he still managed 18 points (7-17 shooting) with eight steals.
Sikeston's Julian Beard overcame a scoreless first quarter to score 16 points with five rebounds and three steals. Senior teammate Ray Rodgers followed up with 12 points and six rebounds.
Sikeston shot just 21-for-50 (42 percent) from the field on the night, but they made up for it with a strong night from the charity stripe, hitting 19-23. Kelly struggled from the line, making just 10-19.
The Bulldogs also recorded 17 steals while turning the ball over 12 times.
"If there's any moral victories this would be it," said Johnson. "They're very talented and very athletic. We knew Michael Porter was their bread and butter for the most part. What a talent he is. Any coach would love to have somebody like that -- he's going to make something good happen nine out of 10 times. We really focused on him and I thought we did a pretty decent job pushing him to the baseline side, but he just made some nice athletic moves and scored some on us.
"The Beard kid stepped up and hit some in-between shots. All in all, I thought we did a heck of a job defensively. We kept them on our back as much as we could without them jumping over the top of us. I was real proud of our effort. Hopefully we can continue that for the rest of the year."
Kelly was led by Thurman's 19 points. Chipman scored 12 of his 14 in the fourth quarter.
The big-bodied Ayers scored 13 of his 14 points in the first half. He also spent most of the game guarding Porter.
"He's needed a game like this -- he's struggled this year finishing in the post," said Johnson. "He was excited about the challenge with guarding Porter tonight. He's got to step his game up every night for us to be successful. If he can be a big post presence like that for us, we'll definitely continue to compete and play like this."
Sikeston played Portageville in a home game on Saturday. Results from that game will be in Monday's edition.
The Sikeston junior varsity team improved to 11-3 on the season with its eighth straight victory, defeating Kelly 46-41.
Sikeston led 16-10 after one quarter and 25-15 at the half. The Bulldogs extended the lead to 38-24 heading into the final frame. Kelly put together a rally in the final minutes to make things interesting, but the Bulldogs were able to hold on for the victory.
Sikeston was led by Dominic Fondon and Eli Jackson with 10 points apiece. Jackson also had 10 rebounds and seven steals. Juqualin Wiggins followed up with nine points, six rebounds and seven assists.
Levi Felter led Kelly with 14 points.