(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
CAPE GIRARDEAU -- Wednesday night was Senior Night for the Cape Central Lady Tigers basketball team, and unfortunately for Sikeston, the seniors didn't disappoint.
Five of the Lady Tigers' six seniors combined for 63 points as Cape Central built an early lead and defeated Sikeston 87-52.
"Our seniors have been the core of our team this year," said Cape Central coach Sheri Sherrell. "They've stepped up. I was really proud of the way they all played tonight. Each and every one of them contributed in their own way."
Four seniors scored in double figures for the Lady Tigers with Farrah Malik leading the way with 18. Sadie Pittman scored 15 while Starr Harris and Paige Smith added 13 and 12 respectively.
"Farrah Malik had a big night tonight and Sadie had her typical consistent night for us and Paige Smith too," Sherrell said. "Starr Harris stepped up too and played really big. Machaela Durham, she's always a work horse underneath for us and Crystal (Vinson) is our defensive stopper. She's not going to score a whole lot of points but she's going to play some defense."
"Cape has a very good basketball team," said Sikeston coach Homer Jackson. "They are really balanced, inside and out. They can run the floor and they can defend so it's not a surprise to me they played as well as they played."
Cape Central came out of the gates strong as everything they tried seemed to work. The Lady Tigers pounded the ball inside for easy looks and when that wasn't there they kicked the ball to the perimeter where they hit 3-of-4 3-pointers in the first quarter, taking a 33-15 lead.
"It was Senior Night and you never know how they'll come out and play after that excitement and emotional stuff, but I was really proud of the way my kids came out in the first quarter," Sherrell said. "They were ready to play tonight and I'm really proud of that."
"From the beginning, when we looked up we were down five baskets," said Jackson. "With it being Senior Night it was to be expected. It was fun to watch (Cape Central) play but it was more fun for me to watch our girls compete in the face of all that."
Trailing after one quarter, Sikeston didn't back down and battled Cape Central point-for-point in the second quarter, trailing 49-31 at halftime. A main reason for Sikeston's improved play in the second was because of the play of Asia Liggins. The sophomore finished with nine points in the quarter and ended with a game-high 29 points while pulling down eight rebounds.
"Asia Liggins decided she was going to play," Jackson said. "She has made the adjustment against taller players and instead of always going to the basket she has recognized what level one's defense is doing and what level two's defense is doing. She is playing at her pace and the game is fun for her."
While Liggins was scoring, she was getting pinpoint passes from fellow sophomore Keyonna Blissett. Blissett finished the game with 11 points, four steals and four assists.
"Keyonna gets the ball to (Asia) in a position where she can score," Jackson said. "That tandem is very good for us."
Still the Liggins-Blissett duo wasn't enough to stop Cape Central who controlled the second half, outscoring the Lady Bulldogs 38-21. Even in defeat, Jackson saw several bright spots from younger players who saw action.
"I was really glad to see Kathryn Hay come in and play really, really well," Jackson said. "Jalen Peet and Shateria (Flye) came in and did good also. I was just hoping that our other girls would feed off of Asia, because if our girls can be a distraction for just a play or two, all the attention won't focus on Asia."
With the loss, Sikeston fell to 7-13 and will begin districts on Tuesday when they take on Perryville Lady Pirates at the Bearcat Events Center in Dexter.
"I'm still hopeful with our chances in district," Jackson said. "As long as Asia stays healthy, Keyonna stays healthy, Jerrica (Taylor) continues to contribute and we get some good play out of these JV players, I think we'll be OK."
SIKESTON (52) -- Tyanne Townsend 4, Keyonna Blissett 11, Asia Liggins 29, Darquesha Howard 2, Jerrica Taylor 4, Kathryn Hay 2. FG 21, FT 9-20, F 13. (3-pointers: Liggins 1. Fouled out: none).
CAPE CENTRAL (87) -- Sadie Pittman 15, Tynesha Ivy 2, Farrah Malik 18, Chelsea Pannier 14, Paige Smith 12, Starr Harris 13, Chelsea Vinson 8, Machaela Durham 5. FG 35, FT 10-16, F 16. (3-pointers: Malik 4, Pannier 2, Pittman 1. Fouled out: none).