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Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2014

'Dogs salvage seventh place

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

(Photo)
Sikeston's Julian Beard goes up for a shot.
DYERSBURG, Tenn. -- After a couple tough games in the Dyersburg Christmas Tournament, the Sikeston Bulldogs took out their frustrations on Munford (Tenn.) in the seventh place game on Saturday afternoon, 83-50.

"We faced good teams -- there's some really good competition over there," said Sikeston coach Gregg Holifield, whose team improved to 6-5 with the victory. "Hopefully this will make us better down the stretch. We just have to keep working to improve and get better so we can be as good as we can be by the end of the year."

The Cougars, who earlier in the season had defeated eventual tournament champion Dyersburg, proved more than bothersome in the first half against the Bulldogs.

Munford jumped out to a 12-6 lead, but the Bulldogs responded with a 10-0 run and they never trailed again.

The Cougars managed to hang around for the rest of the first half, trailing 33-28. But Sikeston came to life in the second half, dismantling Munford 50-22 the rest of the way.

Sikeston sophomore Michael Porter wrapped up a strong tournament showing with another spectacular game, pumping in 29 points (12-17 shooting), a career-high 20 rebounds, five steals and four assists.

In three tournament games Porter averaged 25.7 points and 15 rebounds while shooting 64 percent from the field.

"Michael really had a great tournament," said Holifield. "He's consistent every night. He's going to get you 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds every game. He's a very solid, very steady player and he just keeps getting better and better."

Porter even showed more range to his game on Saturday as he dropped in numerous 15-foot baseline jumpers.

Senior teammate Julian Beard shook off a poor shooting night to score 15 points with four assists and three steals. Senior Isaac Porter added 14 points. Junior Matt Ritch helped seal the game late with nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter.

Freshman Juqualin Wiggins had his best game in his short varsity stint with two points, six rebounds, three steals and two assists.

Saturday's victory was a much-needed boost for Sikeston, which lost to a talented Brighton team in a close game on Thursday and blew a sure victory on Friday against Jackson North Side with sloppy play in the final minute.

"It's nice to get a win in the tournament -- we played a very tough team the first night and we let them get away from us late," said Holifield. "The second night we had an opportunity to win, but we didn't handle things down the stretch. So to go in and get a win out of it against out of state competition is good for us."

Sikeston led 16-14 after one quarter and pulled away for a 33-28 lead by halftime. The Bulldogs opened up a double-digit lead early in the third quarter and led 55-43 heading into the final frame.

The Bulldogs put the hammer down in the fourth, outscoring Munford 28-7 to ice the game. Sikeston's biggest lead reached 35 points.

"I thought we played well in the second half," said Holifield. "We had good energy and did a good job of finding Michael and Julian."

Sikeston continued its usual trend of good shooting from inside the 3-point arc -- shooting 28-48 (58 percent), but poor shooting beyond the arc -- going 3-13 (23 percent).

Also, careless turnovers and shaky ball-handling came to the forefront as problems that need to be addressed -- the Bulldogs had 17 turnovers on Saturday and averaged 18.3 turnovers in the three tournament games.

But more than anything, Holifield said the team needs to work on defense -- Sikeston has allowed an average of 76 points per game in its five losses.

"We've got a lot of work to do, but our players will continue to work hard," said Holifield. "Our goal and objective each year is to be as good as we can be by the district tournament. We're looking forward to getting the job done."

Sikeston will host South Pemiscot on Thursday at 6 p.m. The Bulldogs will travel to Charleston on Friday at 6 p.m. in a pivotal SEMO Conference matchup.

The Bulldogs were originally scheduled to play Caruthersville tonight, but that game has been moved to Feb. 12.

In other tournament action, New Madrid County Central (2-7) lost in the fifth place game to Jackson North Side 64-38.

Notes: Prior to Saturday's victory, Sikeston had gone 1-3 since starting forward Ray Rodgers broke his hand in a weight-lifting accident.

Rodgers is scheduled to get his cast removed this week. However, it's unclear when Rodgers will be ready to play. Depending on the healing process, he is expected back anywhere from a week to three weeks.