(Photo by Matthew Bain, Staff)
FREDERICKTOWN -- The No. 9 state-ranked Sikeston Bulldogs once again prevailed on a long road trip, as they downed the Fredericktown Blackcats by the wide margin of 83-47 Tuesday night in Fredricktown.
The Blackcats were able to keep things close for the first minute and a half of the contest, but not much more than that.
The Bulldogs took a 6-4 lead at the 6:00 minute mark in the first quarter and the outcome was never in doubt from that point on.
Sikeston (11-2) had a different look Tuesday night, as senior leader Michael Porter was sidelined with a minor injury.
"Michael (Porter) has got a sore back that has been giving him a little trouble," Bulldogs head coach Gregg Holifield said about his starting center. "We kept him out tonight as a precautionary measure. He is day-to-day at this point. We will try to get him a little rest and get him back out there when he is ready."
With their predominant scorer on the bench, Sikeston's entire squad stepped up Tuesday to fill that void.
Holifield felt that his team responded well to Porter's absence.
"I feel that we responded really well," he said. "We did some good things tonight, despite being sloppy at times. But when you play back-to-back road games, that's to be expected to a degree. Overall, I was pleased and proud of our effort."
The Bulldogs were led offensively by junior forward Eli Jackson. Jackson put up 25 points in the game and was an impressive 12-14 from the field. Jackson also recorded seven rebounds and four steals.
"He (Jackson) did a good job tonight," Holifield said. "He was very aggressive on the inside. He is a good post player. A lot of times, he is an 'inside/outside' player for us, but tonight he was around the goal most of the time and did a good job in there."
As Jackson pounded away in the post, Sikeston also exploited the Blackcats zone defense from the perimeter. The Bulldogs knocked down seven 3-point baskets in the contest.
Six of those seven 3-pointers came from sophomore guard Will Holifield. Holifield posted career highs in points (21), and steals (6). Holifield was disciplined in which long range shots he took, as he was 55 percent from 3-point distance.
"He (Holifield) had a nice game," coach Holifield said of Will's performance. "He had some open looks and was able to knock those down for us."
Coach Holifield also pointed to unselfish play as a key to his teams' victory Tuesday night.
"We played very good team basketball tonight," he said. "We did a good job sharing the basketball. I thought Cal Lane and Juqualin Wiggins did a very good job in that aspect. We played very unselfishly tonight, and that is the key to our team."
Sikeston once again utilized sound defense to set up their potent transition game. The Bulldogs stole the ball away 22 times Tuesday, as well as forcing numerous other turnovers and blocking several shots.
"Defensively, we did very well at times tonight," Holifield said. "We were a little over anxious and were lunging a little bit. But, we were able to create some problems for them and create some turnovers to set up our transition opportunities, which are always keys to our success."
Fredericktown head coach Chad Starkey agreed that Sikeston's defense prevented his team from executing their game plan.
"I thought our guys played pretty hard tonight," Starkey said of the Blackcats effort. "We were just not able to execute. We turned the ball over, missed shots, and missed free throws. When you continue to do that throughout the game, that deficit just gets wider and wider."
One aspect the Bulldogs underachieved in the game was rebounding. Sikeston only pulled down 29 rebounds in the contest.
"I was just telling our kids that rebounding is going to be our point of emphasis in the next couple of days at practice," Holifield said. "We have to improve there and we will work hard to do just that and be ready to go again on Friday."
The Sikeston junior varsity was also victorious 64-23. Corey Porter led the Bulldogs with 13 points.