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Sikeston ends losing streak; wins share of SEMO Conference title

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

(Photo)
Sikeston's Darryl Howard goes up for two of his game-high 24 points Tuesday night against New Madrid County Central. Sikeston won the game 87-64. David Jenkins, Staff
SIKESTON -- For the Sikeston Bulldogs basketball team, a two-game losing streak is rare. Tuesday night, the Bulldogs made sure not to make it three in-a-row.

Sikeston used their potent pressure defense to create 29 New Madrid County Central turnovers and routed the Eagles 87-64, in the process gaining a share of their third-straight SEMO Conference regular season championship.

Tuesday night's performance was a far cry from the Bulldogs' two losses last week which saw Sikeston score 51 and 50 points in losses.

"We didn't play very well last week and the kids were embarrassed," said Sikeston coach Gregg Holifield. "We didn't do the things we needed to do to be a championship team. Our kids have come in with a sense of urgency and decided to work hard and get back to where we've been. I thought tonight we made things go our way and I thought our work ethic was much better."

That sense of urgency began on the defensive end where the Bulldogs forced the Eagles into turnovers that led to easy baskets on the offensive end. In all Sikeston had 22 steals in the game, led by Darryl Howard's eight. Howard turned those steals into points as well, scoring a game-high 24 points.

"Their pressure is good but I also think we helped them," said NMCC coach Travis Day. "We got away from running our press breaker and panicked. That is what Sikeston's good at. They got us in their type of game and started chunking that thing all over the place."

NMCC was able to slow the pace down in the first quarter and only trailed Sikeston 14-13 after one. However Sikeston forced the tempo in the second and built as much as a 17-point lead in the quarter before taking a 41-29 advantage in at the break.

"We got away from our game plan," Day said. "The first quarter we stuck with our game plan and we slowed the game down and took our time with it. That second quarter we seemed to forget everything we worked on. They are good enough that if you make a mistake they are going to make you pay for it."

While Sikeston was creating points off of their pressure defense, the Bulldogs also were hitting shots from the field, something they weren't able to do last week.

"We had that fight in our eyes (tonight)," said Sikeston's Janeil Hatchett. "Our confidence was low after that Scott Central game and then Friday night against Cape our effort was there and we played hard, we just couldn't get shots to fall. Today we stepped up and hit big shots in big moments and got the lead early."

Sikeston continued to make the Eagles pay for their mistakes, something Holifield impressed upon his team at halftime. The Bulldogs listened and put the game away in the third quarter, taking a 65-40 advantage into the final period.

"(Coach) just told us to go out there and play our game like we know we can and do what we do best and that is run teams in the dirt," Hatchett said.

Nothing seemed to be going right for NMCC as they also found themselves getting out-rebounded, something that happens very seldom against the Eagles. Sikeston out-rebounded NMCC 35-24 in the game.

"The important part of the game was we really rebounded the basketball well," Holifield said. "New Madrid is such a good rebounding team, we really had to work hard to keep them off the boards and I was really proud of that effort from all of our kids."

The Eagles fought back in the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to under 20 points at one point but it was too little, too late as Sikeston rolled to the 87-64 win, marking the ninth-straight time the Bulldogs have defeated NMCC.

Sikeston (17-3) was led by Howard's 24 points while Hatchett finished with 16 points and six assists. Sophomore Terry Jamison finished with 13 points and Corey Porter chipped in 11. Eli Jackson finished with nine points and pulled down nine rebounds.

Dontre Jenkins led NMCC (12-9) with 20 points while Kony Ealy had 16 points and 11 rebounds. G'Darius Stevenson added 13 points for the Eagles.

Both Sikeston and NMCC finished conference play with a 5-2 record and will share the conference title with Notre Dame who also finished 5-2. Poplar Bluff could also earn a share of the title if they defeat Charleston on Friday night. There is no tie-breaker in the SEMO Conference.

The conference title is Sikeston's sixth in the school's history and third in the last three years. The title is NMCC's first since the 2001-2002 season.

"For these seniors to be a part of three conference championships is quite an honor for them because it is so difficult to win as we saw this year with teams battling back-and-forth," Holifield said. "It is just tough to win the conference."

"It's a good accomplishment for us but for me we can't enjoy it right now because of the beating we just got," Day said. "But being part of a championship that we haven't won since 2001-02 is a great accomplishment for these guys."

Tuesday also served as Senior Night as Juqualin Wiggins, Martez Evans and Jackson were honored before the game.

"They've had great careers," Holifield said of his seniors. "They've been a part of a team the last three years that have gone 64-11, so they've really been a part of some great teams. They come in and work every day and that is why they are so good. They come in with a great attitude, work hard and I can't say enough about the three seniors."

Sikeston will host Bernie for Homecoming Friday night in the Bulldogs' final regular season game while NMCC will host Portageville on Friday.

NMCC13161124--64
Sikeston14272422--87

NMCC (64) -- Dontre Jenkins 20, Lamonte Nelson 5, Keith Holmes 9, G'Darius Stevenson 13, Kony Ealy 16, William Bledsoe 1. FG 20, FT 18-30, F 25. (3-pointers: Jenkins 3, Holmes 3. Fouled out: Jamareia Jones, Bledsoe).

SIKESTON (87) -- Juqualin Wiggins 6, Eli Jackson 9, Darryl Howard 24, Caleb McGee 2, Janeil Hatchett 16, Martez Evans 1, Terry Jamison 13, Corey Porter 11, Kil'Ron Coleman 5. FG 31, FT 20-29, F 23. (3-pointers: Howard 2, Hatchett 2. Fouled out: none).

JUNIOR VARSITY

Sikeston 75, NMCC 27

The Sikeston junior varsity team rolled past NMCC 75-27 and won the SEMO Conference Tournament with a 7-0 record.

Sikeston jumped out to a 24-4 lead in the first quarter and never looked back.

Caleb McGee and Eldridge Gibson both scored 14 points apiece to lead Sikeston while Kil'ron Coleman and Keldon Warfield added 13 and 10 points respectively.

NMCC48105--27
Sikeston24162114--75

NMCC (27) -- Earl Grissom 3, Armondo Thatch 4, Jimmy Caldwell 4, Datre Hicks 7, Tevin Winfield 4, CJ Chism 1, Gabe Smith 4. FG 10, FT 6-8, F 10. (3-pointers: Grissom 1. Fouled out: none).

SIKESTON (75) -- Markeith Bratcher 4, Vashawn Ruffin 12, David Foster 3, Caleb McGee 14, Quinton Washington 2, Jacob Wilson 3, Eldridge Gibson 14, Keldon Warfield 10, Kil'ron Coleman 13. FG 30, FT 9-14, F 11. (3-pointers: Ruffin 2, McGee 2, Foster 1, Wilson 1. Fouled out: none).