BLYTHEVILLE, Ark.-- The Sikeston Bulldog basketball team picked up their first win of the season as they downed the Blytheville Chickasaws 81-71 on the road in Blytheville Tuesday night.
"It's great to win games on the road," Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield said after his team's win. "That (Blytheville) is a tough place to play and we are happy to get out of there with the win."
The Bulldogs (1-1) came out on fire as they went on a 20-0 run in the first quarter. However, the Chickasaws outscored Sikeston 39-26 from that point until the teams headed to the half time locker room with the Bulldogs lead trimmed to six.
In the second quarter, Blytheville began to drain three point shots to gain the momentum they lacked in the first. The Chickasaws' finished with a dizzying seven three point field goals Tuesday night.
A major factor in Blytheville's' resurgence is that Sikeston's three-time All-State center Micheal Porter was whistled for his third foul early in the the second quarter.
With Porter resting on the bench, the Bulldog point guard Juqualin Wiggins rattled off 21 points, most of which came in the second quarter.
Wiggin's, who was an assist minded guard last season who averaged 6.6 ppg, showed his ability to be an offensive weapon.
"That's just the kind of player he (Wiggins) is," Holifiled said of his point guard. "We had to have him get more aggressive after Micheal (Porter) got into foul trouble. He scored all those points for us in the first half."
However, with Porter returning to the floor full time in the second half, Wiggins settled back in to his traditional role of running the offense and managing the game. Wiggins had eight assists in Tuesday's game.
"In the second half he came out and ran the offense very patiently and unselfishly," Holifield added. "Even though he scored all his points in the first half I'm not so sure that he didn't play better in the second half. Juqualin (Wiggins) just really understands the game."
The second half of Tuesday's contest was a back-and-forth struggle as both teams showed they had no problem putting up points, Sikeston from inside the paint and the Chickasaws from outside.
A critical factor in the Bulldogs being able to out last Blytheville's offensive onslaught was the performance of forward Cal Lane. Lane had 16 points in the game that all seemed to come at key moments.
"Cal (Lane) scored his points tonight when we needed him the most," Holifield said. "He is the type of guy who can step up when we need him to. He really made a difference tonight."
Holifield cited Porter's smart play Tuesday night as a "big" difference. Porter recorded 21 points and numerous rebounds all the while having to avoid fouling out.
"He (Porter) is our team leader and he does a good job," Holifield said. "He played a smart and 'under control' game tonight. He knows his limitations when he gets in foul trouble. He did a great job when he was in foul trouble tonight and that made a big difference."
Although rebounding stats were not available at press time, Holifield feels that his team controlled that aspect of the game.
"We were able to control the boards tonight," he said.
Defensive pressure played an important role in Tuesday's game, with Blytheville committing 24 to Sikeston's 20.
Holifield commented that he was "pleased" with his team's ability to create turnovers and noted that the Chickasaw's speed caused his team to commit more than usual.
"We knew going in that they were one of the quickest teams we would play this year," he said. "We had some turnovers, but that is going to happen against a team like that. We try to keep our turnovers low, and we were able to do that against Layfayette Saturday. We look to continue to keep our turnovers low. As the year goes on that aspect will just get better."
Holifield also noted that his squad has to continue to work hard on improving their performance at the free throw line. The Bulldogs were 17-35 from the line Tuesday.
"We are going to get better at our free throws," Holifield stated confidently. "We are working hard on that and it's going to happen for us."
Holifield said that this game showed his team how they need to finish games.
"Blytheville is a great team every year, our hats off to them," he said of his opponent. "They are in the Arkansas finals almost every year. We knew they would play tough. We were able to regain a 10 or 15 point margin in the fourth quarter and were able to do what was need to close out the game. We feel good about that."
Sikeston's next game will be against Dexter in the home opener Friday night at the Sikeston Field House. The game will begin at 6 p.m.