(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
"We've never had a week like we had last week," Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield said. "We were beat up, banged up and sick and we didn't play well Friday (Feb. 27). We got out of there against an outstanding team and I'm fortunate that we're more healthy tonight (Wednesday).
"Last week was tough but sometimes adversity makes you better and I feel like our kids responded well."
They responded by blistering the Farmington Knights 68-38 in the Class 4 sectional game at Mineral Area college on Wednesday night.
"We were standing so bad against Notre Dame that we just didn't have much to work with throughout the week of practice last week," Holifield said. "Tonight, we were a lot more prepared and I feel like we did a much better job."
One of those players that had been hampered by sickness last week was senior guard Juqualin Wiggins.
Wiggins is sick no more.
He scored the games first seven points and was the leading scorer for the Bulldogs with 22 points. He also hounded the glass for nine rebounds and stole the ball five times.
"It was a big game and I knew I was going to have to step up for our team," Wiggins said. "I was just going to do whatever I had to do to get the win."
To go along with Wiggins and his antics, the Bulldogs defense seemed to be in lock-down mode as they forced 15 turnovers in the first half alone that led to a 26-11 first quarter score and a 43-22 lead at the end of the half.
"[We were] going to guard them as hard as we possibly could," Holifield said. "And to stay in a stance and try to eliminate the dribble penetration and take their 3's away. I thought we did a pretty good job of that."
Guarding against 3-pointers was one of the main focuses of the Sikeston defense.
During their last meeting earlier this season, Sikeston gave up seven 3-pointers to the Knights in a game won by the Bulldogs, 77-75. This time around Farmington sank two which were both in the first quarter.
"That was one of our main focuses all week during practices," said Wiggins. "We knew they could shoot the ball. That's what they did to us last time so we tried to take that away"
Farmington head coach Joe Arnold said that he thought his team took a few more 3-pointers than they needed to in the early going, instead of taking the ball to the basket.
"I thought early we took too many 3's and wouldn't take the ball to the hole," Arnold said. "Anytime you took it to the hole you got whacked so I guess the kids kind of got a little intimidated. It was a very physical game which is a type of game that favors Sikeston.
"We didn't come out and play very well from the start. I thought we were pretty nervous. Some of the kids that usually make shots or make free throws were missing early. We got down a little and couldn't get back up."
Things continued in the Bulldogs favor throughout the second half as Wiggins kept rolling along. He opened the third quarter with three unanswered buckets that sparked a 10-0 run within the first three minutes of the period.
Sikeston went on to lead 59-33 at the end of the third.
To go along with Wiggins' 22 points, Michael Porter was second in scoring with 13 points while adding a nice floor-game with nine rebounds, seven assists, five steals and four blocks. Will Holifield, who sank two 3-pointers, finished with eight.
Farmington (24-5) was led by Korde Detring who scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Taylor Denman chipped in with eight.
Next up for Sikeston (24-3) will be another state ranked team in the Borgia Knights.
Borgia (25-3) defeated St. Mary's (St. Louis) 49-31 on Wednesday night as well and was also the team that defeated Sikeston in the 2006 state championship game.
"I have seen Borgia play and they are as good of a team as anyone in the state," Holifield said. "They're outstanding. We'll play as we can and see what happens."
"We've got to take one game at a time," said Wiggins. "It's on."
The quarterfinal matchup will take place at the Farmington Civic Center at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
SIKESTON (68) -- Juqualin Wiggins 22, Niquavious Dixon 7, Darryl Howard 6, Michael Porter 13, Eli Jackson 4, Will Holifield 8, Cal Lane 6, Janiel Hatchett 2. FG 27 FT 12-20 F 16. (3-pointers: Holifield 2. Fouled out: none.)
FARMINGTON (38) -- Taylor Denman 8, Nick Baker 1, Korde Detring 17, Lance Miller 6, Jared Clippard 2, John Schnurbusch 2, Matt McFarland 2. FG 13 FT 10-19 F 17. (3-pointers: Miller 2. Fouled out: none.)