Free throw from LaShawna Turner helps SHS get win
KENNETT -- After suffering a tough loss last Thursday to Poplar Bluff, Sikeston head coach Homer Jackson had full confidence that his team would respond and bounce back the next time the Lady Bulldogs took the court.
On Monday night, they had their opportunity to do just that as the quest to get back into the win column took them on the road to face the Kennett Lady Indians.
With 7.4 seconds left on the clock and the potential game to be decided at 51-48, Sikeston's LaShawna Turner admitted she had her doubts while stepping up to the free throw line.
"We told her that the best they could have done with a three was tie us," Jackson said. "If she could make one of the two free throws then it would make it a four point game and we would be in control."
Although nervous, the junior guard looked calm as could be with the chance to seal the victory as she hit the first of two free throws, consequently giving her team a two possession lead. This was all the Bulldogs needed as they held on to the 52-48 final.
"I really didn't think I was going to make the free throws," said Turner. "All of the loud noise had me shook up for a minute. But when I saw it go in I knew the game was over with and it was a relief."
While Sikeston managed to pull out their fourth win of the season, the Lady Bulldogs made things far from easy for themselves in the game.
After jumping out to a 15-point lead by halftime, 35-20, a slow third quarter found the Lady Indians right back in it as they battled their way to only an eight point deficit heading into the final quarter, 40-32.
"We told them in the locker room, 'girls expect them to make a run and then be able to withstand it,'" Jackson said. "We knew they were gonna score. The important thing was for us not to lose our composure and allow ourselves to be put in a position to counter.
"I think the girls responded well to that tonight and really did a good job."
Sikeston seemed to regain control of the game in the fourth quarter as they paced themselves to a 10 point lead with one minute remaining.
However, the Lady Indians were not quite ready to throw in the towel as an improbable comeback attempt was initiated after freshmen guard Jerica Wheeler took a rebound coast-to-coast for the home team. Cutting the lead back down to eight, the Kennett press then found a way to come up with a steal which ended up in the hands of 5-9 junior Hope Sparks who launched a deep 3-pointer to cut the lead to five with 32 seconds left remaining.
"Kennett is a good team, they weren't gonna lay down and roll over for us and I thought that showed great character," said Jackson. "Even though they were down, they made some tremendous shots there at the end."
Sparks wasn't finished though as another Bulldog turnover allowed the junior to get off another 3-pointer which once again found the bottom of the net, electrifying the home crowd as the clock continued to whine down at the 18 second mark.
"Hope got hot all of the sudden and it really sparked us," said Kennett head coach Casey Bunting. "She came in and hit those 3's back-to-back and brought us right back into the game."
Unfortunately for the Lady Indians, the exciting last minute rally would soon come to an end after the Turner put the game out of reach.
"We just had such a big hole to dig out of from when we started the game. Once we started working as a team, we really made some progress," Bunting said. "But sometimes it's hard to cut a deficit when you coming from so far back.
"I am really impressed with my girls' performance. They've been battling all season and they came out tonight, worked hard and I'm just really impressed with them tonight."
Kennett was lead by Jessie Greenway with 12 points and two 3-pointers while Sparks followed close with 11 and two 3-pointers of her own. Wheeler also chipped in 10.
Sikeston was lead by a slew of players in the winning effort. Monika Gray-El (18 points), Amber Minner (16), Krystal Henson (8) and Turner (8) all contributed well in what Jackson describe as a picture perfect first half.
"We started off just dominating which we haven't done yet so that was great," said Minner. "They got some 3's off towards the end but kept the lead so that's all that matters.
"I just think we played great as a team and we all did well tonight."
The Lady Bulldogs (4-10) will be back in action tonight when the host the Delta Lady Bobcats. Tip-off will be tossed at 6 p.m.