(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- The Sikeston Bulldogs got the SEMO Conference tournament started just the way they wanted with a 75-44 win over the Dexter Bearcats on Monday night.
This marks the second straight win over the Bearcats for Sikeston after they went into Dexter last Friday night and posted a 64-23 victory in a game controlled by the Bulldogs suffocating defense who didn't allow a point to their opposition in the first quarter.
Sikeston's defense was still there the second time around but the Bearcats managed to hang around until halftime with the Bulldogs holding a 34-23 lead.
"You could tell they were very well prepared," Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield said about Dexter "They really made a lot of adjustments from Friday night. The did a great job preparing."
Fairing better than their shutout first quarter on Friday night, the Bearcats pulled to within four points with just over two minutes left in the first period. However, a 10-0 run by the Bulldogs gave them a 22-8 advantage at the end of the quarter.
"We still got off to a little bit of a slow start," Dexter head coach Rob Nichols said. "We had some shots early that didn't go. We're glad it didn't turn into what it did the other night.
"Once we beat the press we still didn't slow it down like I would like to. I didn't want to get into a full court, up and down game with them. It's very difficult to slow the pace down with the way they pressure the ball."
After the break, Sikeston began to extend that 11-point lead with flashes of what their offense is capable of doing. The Bulldogs worked the ball around with good ball movement inside and had the hot shooting of Will Holifield as well. Holifield hit five-of-eight 3-pointers on the night as he led Sikeston with 21 points.
"The first half, not so much, but I thought in the second half we got a little more fluid," Gregg Holifield said about their offense. "The biggest thing we're having trouble with is just passing it and catching it right now."
Eli Jackson was the Bulldogs' second leading scorer with 15 points while Corey Porter added 13 points and nine rebounds off the bench. Juqualin Wiggins chipped in with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Dexter's Alan Flannigan led all scorers with 22 points. Ryan Windham added 10 for the Bearcats.
Next up for Dexter (0-3) will be the Jackson Indians at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the consolation bracket. Jackson lost to the New Madrid County Central Eagles on Monday night in a 51-41 final.
NMCC and Sikeston will hook up in the semifinals on Thursday at 7 p.m. for a chance to advance to the tournament finale.
DEXTER (44) -- Brandon Stoker 3, Ryan Windham 10, Gary Summers 1, Jacob Hester 2, Alan Flannigan 22, John Bowman 6. FG 17 FT 6-11 F 12. (3-pointers: Stoker, Flannigan, Bowman. Fouled out: none.)
SIKESTON (75) -- Juqualin Wiggins 12, Eli Jackson 15, Niquavious Dixon 4, Darryl Howard 7, Janeil Hatchett 3, Will Holifield 21, Corey Porter 13. FG 30 FT 9-16 F 11. (3-pointers: Howard, Holifield 5. Fouled out: none.)
The Eagles were able to stave off a late surge by the Indians, who came from within five points with just over a minute left in regulation.
NMCC sophomore Lamonte Nelson hit two free throws and converted a 3-point play to give the Eagles their 10-point win.
"Some good things we got out of this is they made their runs at us and we were able to handle it," NMCC head coach Travis Day said about Jackson's late push "We kept fighting and we didn't give up. When you can keep a Jackson team around 40 points a game, that's not bad, as good as they can shoot it."
The Indians were able to keep it a fairly close contest throughout never ranging more than 12 points away from NMCC.
With three minutes left to play, Jackson crept closer towards the Eagles with a six-point run to make it the five-point deficit.
Dontre Jenkins led all scorers with 17 points followed very closely by Kony Ealy's 15 on the night. Nelson added nine for the Eagles.
Zach McDowell paced Jackson with 15 points while Kyle Keith added 11.
The Eagles will now have to deal with the Bulldogs and their daunting pressure defense if they want to have a chance at a SEMO Conference title.
"That press is awesome," said Day. "If we make a mistake they are going to make you pay for it, which is what good teams will make you do. The biggest thing that press can make you do is panic. I think we just have to stay under control and take care of the ball."
JACKSON (41) -- Taylor Williams 2, Kyle Keith 11, Tyler Rhodes 3, Zach McDowell 15, Henrie Williams 8, Bobby Clark 2. FG 14 FT 8-13 F 18. (3-pointers: Keith 2, Rhodes, McDowell 2. Fouled out: none.)
NMCC (51) -- Dontre Jenkins 17, Lamonte Nelson 9, Keith Holmes 2, Jamareia Jones 2, G'Darius Stevenson 4, Kony Ealy 15, William Bledsoe 2. FG 21 FT 7-14 F 12. (3-pointers: Jenkins 2. Fouled out: none.)
The Poplar Bluff Mules took care of the Cape Central Tigers on Monday night in a 66-31 rout.
The Mules jetted out to a 12-point lead after the first quarter that eventually grew to 27 points at the half.
Jay Raulston led the Mules with 25 points while Jake White chipped in with 11.
Kevin Casasola led the Tigers with 13 points.
Poplar Bluff will take on the winner of the Notre Dame-Charleston game on Thursday night for a chance at the tournament final. Cape Central will face the loser of that same game.
CAPE CENTRAL (31) -- Blake Ozbun 2, Andrew Williams 5, James Lane 4, Kevin Casasola 13, Zach Boerboom 6, Terrance Howard 1. (3-pointers: Williams, Casasola.) FT: 5-10.
POPLAR BLUFF (66) -- Kendric McCain 0, Greg Coble 6, Jay Raulston 25, Jake White 11, Eljie Johnson 9, Zach McAnulty 4, Jordan Marler 4. (3-pointers: White 3, Raulston, Marler.) FT: 7-10.