(David Jenkins, Staff)
Although he has had his share of troubles from behind the arc during the early part of the season, including the SEMO Conference tournament, the senior 3-point man found his stroke when the Bulldogs needed it the most.
Holifield sank four 3-pointers in the third quarter after the Bulldogs fell behind in the first half, igniting his teammates in the direction of their third-straight SEMO Conference Championship on Friday night by defeating the Cape Central Tigers, 76-55.
"I usually keep on shooting until one goes in, at least," Holifield said. "It just felt good to get a couple to go in and, fortunately, I got hot."
Holifield's 12 third quarter points perked up what had been a weary Bulldog team that was restrained by the slow pace of Cape Central's offense.
Sikeston's Janeil Hatchett followed directly in Holifield's footsteps scoring 11 of his team-high 27 points in the third quarter with relentless defensive pressure.
Hatchett had three of his seven steals in the third quarter and drew extra motivation from his teammates' long-range abilities.
"Will, he's been struggling," Hatchett said. "He came out and hit that first three and I think that really boosted his confidence. I think that's what turned the game around right there -- Will hitting those big shots."
The Bulldogs were put in unfamiliar territory when Cape Central rallied in the second quarter. Behind four 3-pointers from their deep threat, Andrew Williams who led Cape Central in scoring with 18 points on six 3-pointers, the Tigers outscored Sikeston 19-12 obtaining a 30-26 lead going into halftime.
Cape Central's lethargic offense kept the run-and-gun Bulldogs handcuffed in the first half.
"They won the first half through their tempo," said Holifield. "They controlled it. I think in the second half we were able to dictate the pace and that's how we were able to come out of here with a win."
With Holifield, who scored 12 points -- all from 3-point range, giving Sikeston momentum with every 3-pointer made, the Bulldogs began the third quarter with an 18-3 run gaining back their fast-paced tempo.
"That's a key and we have to play that way," Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield said. "We really have to get up and get on the basketball and pressure as much as we can.
"The first half we wasn't doing that, second half I thought we controlled that part of it."
They continued their torrid pace in the fourth quarter starting with an 8-2 run. Sikeston outscored the Tigers 20-11 in the final frame sealing the win.
"We hadn't been playing very well in the first half and credit a lot of that to Cape," Holifield said. "We told ourselves that we hadn't lost at home as seniors and we don't want this to be the one.
"We came out fired up and ready to play."
Cape Central's James Lane and T.J. Tisdale added 17 and 14 points, respectively.
Darryl Howard and Corey Porter each added 10 points apiece with Howard chipping in five steals.
This win gave Sikeston their 41st straight win at the Sikeston Field House and it also carried over a rivalry born on the football field between the two schools.
"That rivalry is still alive," Hatchett said. "Nobody likes Cape and nobody likes Sikeston. It was a mutual feeling on both sides. The atmosphere was great. It doesn't get much better than this on a Friday night in a packed Field House. It was fun."
CAPE CENTRAL (56) -- David Watts 2, Andrew Williams 18, T.J. Tisdale 14, James Lane 17, Justin Espinoza 4. FG 16, FT 17-26, F 14. (3-pointers: Williams 6. Fouled out: Tisdale.)
SIKESTON (76) -- Kil'Ron Coleman 3, Eldridge Gibson 2, Janeil Hatchett 27, Darryl Howard 10, Caleb McGee 3, Terry Jamison 5, Will Holifield 12, Keldon Warfield 4, Corey Porter 10. FG 27, FT 12-14, F 22. (3-pointers: Coleman 1, Hatchett 2, Howard 2, Jamison 1, Holifield 4. Fouled out: none.)