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Friday, Sep. 19, 2014

All we want for Christmas is ... Scott Central v. Sikeston

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

(Photo)
Scott Central's Drew Thomas
Several reasons factor into why game isn't played

January 5, 1971, a day that will live in infamy. January 5, 1971. That date marks the last time that the Scott County Central Braves took the floor with the Sikeston Bulldogs in high school basketball. The outcome -- a 68-67 overtime victory in favor of the visiting Braves on Sikeston's home court, the Field House. The real outcome -- a pact that has kept the two teams out of the same gymnasium for nearly 38 years.

Chalk it up to 'crowd control.' Stories and rumors have surfaced over three decades, but current superintendent at Sikeston Public Schools, Steve Borgsmiller, says that he was informed when he first took his position (athletic director) in 1975 not to ever play Scott Central in basketball.

"That was one of the things that whenever I got my list of things to do and not to do," said Borgsmiller. "At that time, I was advised that there were a series of incidents that happened before my tenure. After that the issue never came up again."

That is until now.

The two teams, separated by just nine miles, are arguably two of the best teams in the area, and have been slated by many as state title contenders for the 2008-2009 season. Relatives represent the jerseys of both respective schools. Players from both squads show up at each other's games on off-days, yet, the two teams remain true to a truce made in the 70s. In the '71 edition of the Daily Standard, the game was worded as a 'county' rivalry game.

Scott Central superintendent Dr. Joel B. Holland says that the contest would be a good thing for both schools to take part in, but says that the 'conflict' in '71 still puts the game on stand-still.

(Photo)
Sikeston's Michael Porter
"They're (Sikeston players) friends of our kids and our kids are friends with them," said Holland. "It would make for a good friendly rivalry between the two schools to play, especially with the proximity of how close we are with one another."

When asked if he'd like to see a matchup of the two teams once again, Holland said that he 'really would.'

"From the standpoint of our school and the relations with the community and how close we are, it would be a positive thing," Holland said. "From the standpoint of a fan, which I've been a lifelong fan of southeast Missouri basketball, it would be enjoyable to see as well. There's not any part of me that wouldn't want to see that take place."

The Bulldog athletics department has a different view.

"Historically, some fights have broken out in the past when we played them," said Sikeston athletic director Brent Keefer. "We all just thought it would be better if we dissolved the game and not play them, and we haven't."

The 'fight' was said to be an occurrence in the women's bathroom following the overtime finale, and another 'disturbance' was said to be a few kids from Sikeston in the parking lot bothering Scott Central students on their departure.

"I didn't see anything," said Scott Central head coach and athletic director Ronnie Cookson when asked about the altercations following the historic game. "The only thing that I seen was when we got on the bus to leave, that some of the kids from Sikeston was harassing some (Scott Central) kids on the bus and some of the (Scott Central) kids on the bus was harassing some of the kids from Sikeston. It kind of got blowed out of proportion. I think it was more-or-less 'ha-ha, we beat you' or 'we'll get you next time' and stuff like that. I don't think there was any real tense moments."

"There were a couple stories that came out of that game that I think got blowed a little bit out of proportion maybe, or maybe not, I don't know for sure," he added.

(Photo)
An unidentified Sikeston player puts up a shot over Scott County Central's Charles Watson in the final game played between the two schools. Scott Central won the game 68-67 in overtime and Watson led all scorers with 27 points. The photo is courtesy of the 1971 Scott County Central yearbook, "The Warrior."
Cookson said that he thinks that it was Scott Central's school board that suggested severing the ties with Sikeston, due to 'friction between the close schools.' He said that Scott Central was a relatively new school and had just moved to the outskirts of Sikeston.

As for the game, Cookson said that he just considered it another game, not a major priority.

"It didn't really put a straw in my hat," he said. "It was a well played game. Sikeston had a good ball club and we had a good ball club."

Now, 38 years later, both schools once again have good ball clubs.

"This is just not a 'win' situation for us," Keefer said of the possibility of a matchup. "It's not a good game for us so we are not going to play it, probably ever. It is nothing against them (Scott Central) at all, especially anymore."

"I don't doubt that it would be a good, competitive game," he added. "They (Scott Central) have some good players, good kids and good coaching. There is no doubt in my mind that it would be a good game. But, as the years come and go, is it going to be a good thing for us? No, probably not."

Keefer said that it's not the safety issue or a managerial problem for declining the possibility of a rematch, but said it's a 'culmination of a lot of things... the whole ball of wax.'

Sikeston principal Tom Williams said that the Bulldogs try to get teams on the schedule that will compete with SHS 'district wise.'

"We try to get that type of competition and to be able to perform at that level," Williams said. "I'm trying to think back to the 1A (Class 1) teams we have played. We played Gideon a few years back because they wanted to play at the Fieldhouse because they had a good team and (they) were hoping to play sectionals here. The reasoning is, we want to play teams that we are going to have to face and compete with on a district level."

However, the Oran Eagles remain on the Bulldog winter schedule as they are set to face-off February 10.

Williams did say that a rematch of the two neighboring schools would 'be a great event.'

When asked what harm scheduling the contest would be, Williams said, "that would be it, if we can schedule it."

"We have good rivalries right now," he went on to say. "Look at Charleston, Jackson and Notre Dame. We have teams that we have outstanding rivalries with right now that are within our district or the class below. Our schedule is full."

Williams said that SHS tries to maintain a commitment to their schedule that can play-out year after year, with the exception of Christmas tournaments.

"I don't know that there is any reason to do it is my feeling," said Williams on the SCC/SHS matchup. "Yeah, it would be a good rivalry because we are so close, but would we need to do it, I don't know."

Rodger Sherman, the SHS principal from 1965-1974, said that he can't recall the exact problem from the '71 game, he just remembers that there were 'some crowd control problems.'

"A lot of the players and fans were, and are, related," Sherman said. "(There) are good people on both sides of the fence. You won't find a finer person than Ronnie Cookson. I think it was a mutual agreement administratively that maybe we need to cool it. That's what I remember. I don't remember the details of it."

One person who holds a fonder memory of the contest is former Scott Central player John Fort.

"It was a tremendous game between the two schools (that were) so close together," said Fort. "We had friends down in Sikeston playing. It was just a good game for both teams (and) was a hard fought game. I think we had extra incentive to win because the media used to call us the 'little school out in the field.' We wanted to go down there and show them."

The actual game was the first time that the Braves had visited 'the Dog Dome' according to the Daily Standard, meaning the newly constructed Field House. Neither team stood out above the other and neither squad controlled the matchup. At the end of regulation the score was knotted at 57-57. The Daily Standard attributes the win to Scott Central's performance at the free throw line, where the Braves knocked down 14 to Sikeston's 13.

Charles Watson led Scott Central as well as all scorers with 27 points while the Bulldogs were led by Lee King with 18.

"The game itself was a clean, well played game by both teams," Fort said. "Nobody got into it on the floor. As a matter of fact, we didn't even know what was happening until after we came out of the locker room at the end of the game. When we came out of the locker room, then we found out what happened."

"Did I see anything? No," he added. "Because we were in the dressing room after the game, but it did happen."

The 'it' that 'happened' according to Fort, was the altercation in the parking lot between the students.

"It was just the fact that we (Scott Central) came down to their (Sikeston) house and beat them," Fort added. "And that upset some people. It was just one of those things. The fans took it to the other level. It wasn't the ball players on either team. It was just the fact that the fans took it to another level."

The 'level' of intensity is no bother for the Sikeston administration as they say that they take heightened security measures for each matchup they encounter, whether it be Dexter, Poplar Bluff or New Madrid.

"If we played them (Scott Central), the preparations would be no different than anyone else," said Borgsmiller. "In this day in age, whenever you have a large gathering you take all the precautions you possibly can because you want a safe environment for everyone there."

It was rumored that Scott County Central appeared on a Sikeston basketball schedule in 2005, but members from both schools say they have no knowledge of the game.

"I'm not aware of that," said Williams. "It could have been a misprint. It could have been Scott City. We've played Scott City for a long time, but I'm not aware of that (Scott Central being on the schedule)."

Borgsmiller said that he and Holland talk on a regular basis, but don't discuss the possibility of a rematch.

"In all of the years I was the AD (athletic director), which was for 14 years, I never had one conversation with anyone, including our basketball coach at those times, or anyone from outside that indicated any interest in playing Scott County Central in basketball," said Borgsmiller.

Now that conversations are flying once again, Borgsmiller said that the real question of whether it would benefit Sikeston's basketball program or not would lie in the hands of current head coach Gregg Holifield.

"Whether or not this is a good thing or bad thing, I would have to defer to Gregg (Holifield) on that," he said. "It would probably be just a high interest game."

As for Holifield's opinion on the matchup, the Bulldog coach said that he'd like to see the game take place and be a part of it, if the right situation were to present itself.

"I've always been under the understanding that our schools have an agreement not to play each other," said Holifield. "But, a situation where we were both in a Christmas tournament, say at Cape (SeMissouri Christmas Tournament), which Scott Central is already in, would be good. If we could get into a situation like that I feel it would be a great basketball atmosphere. I feel both schools would welcome that. The facilities would hold the crowd and the atmosphere would be great."

Cookson said that all it takes is an open date to agree upon for the two teams to meet once again.

"As far as we're concerned, we would probably drop somebody just to pick them (Sikeston) up or reschedule somebody," said Cookson. "I have a couple of open dates that we could work with. It could've happened this year. We had an open date when we picked Ellington up."

Cookson said that he has three possible dates open for the 2009-2010 season.

Keefer has no plans of scheduling the matchup.

"Really, it's not a good game for us either way," said Keefer. "If they (Scott Central) are a good team, we play good teams anyway. They are a 1A (Class 1) school. If we win, it is because we are supposed to. If we lose, then we are really in the can. So, it doesn't help us at all to play them."

This story was written and information compiled by Matthew Bain, Josh Mills and Chris Pobst of the Standard Democrat sports department.

If they played this year, who would win?

CAPE GIRARDEAU -- Toby Carrig, editor of semoball.com, recently posted a blog debating whether Sikeston or Scott County Central would win if they were to play this season.

According to Carrig, "…after watching the teams in the early part of the season, I've concluded that Sikeston would win at this point. Play the game 10 times, Sikeston would win at least seven, right now."

Both teams are currently 6-1 heading into their holiday tournaments this week and the blog sparked debate among many semoball.com readers.

-- "Didn't SCC lose by 15 to Memphis Central? Yah, they played a tall team, and we all saw how that turned out. They are a great team, but not better than Sikeston. And I'm not trying to be biased, but I call it how I see it." posted one reader.

-- "as for the matchups its real close between scc and sikeston.but scc has the edge coming from hall of fame coach cookson so i would say scc by 7," wrote another reader.

-- "I'd give the inside edge to Sikeston...more size, more experience, probably more depth too. But I sure wouldn't put Sikeston's guards on the same level as SCC's," posted another reader.

Many people who responded to Carrig's blog broke down match-ups between star players like Scott County Central's Drew Thomas and Otto Porter against Sikeston's Michael Porter and Cal Lane.

A poll on semoball.com drew 193 votes in just three days, with 104 people taking Sikeston to beat Scott Central.

To read more of Carrig's blog, visit semoball.com