(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
O'FALLON -- After Warrenton stunningly ended Sikeston's football season in November in the state semifinals, most players probably didn't think they would ever get another crack at the Warriors.
But once the brackets were released for the 17th Annual St. Dominic Christmas Tournament and second-seeded Sikeston was slated to play seventh-seeded Warrenton in the first round, the Bulldogs certainly wouldn't need any special motivation to play the Warriors.
The Bulldogs responded with their most impressive offensive explosion of the season in a 98-53 thrashing.
Even with several storylines dating back to the football season, Sikeston coach Gregg Holifield said the team never made much mention of it.
"We did mention it to them that we had an opportunity to play Warrenton, but the kids really didn't say much about it," Holifield said. "I think they were just focused on what we had to do and just wanted to play well no matter who the opponent was."
Right off the opening tip Sikeston was simply on fire, connecting on 16-of-19 shots (84 percent) from the field, including 6-of-7 from 3-point range en route to a 42-point first quarter.
"We shot the ball well -- when you shoot it well everything clicks and were able to put some points up early in the first quarter," Holifield said.
Overall in the game, Sikeston (10-0) shot a blistering 12-of-17 (71 percent) from 3-point range with eight different players connecting from downtown. The Bulldogs shot 40-of-63 (63 percent) from the field.
"We shot the ball great -- I thought our kids did a great job of cutting and moving the basketball to get open looks," Holifield said. "When we get open looks like that, we're a good shooting team. No doubt that's the best we've shot the ball this year. We've shot the ball well at times this year, but tonight we shot it well from start to finish."
Sikeston's pressure defense completely overwhelmed the Warriors, forcing numerous turnovers and rushed shots. The Bulldogs finished with 23 steals in the game. The ball pressure helped build a 42-11 first quarter lead.
"We put good pressure on the basketball, we had a lot of deflections and we were able to play our style and our pace," Holifield said. "We got them in a big hole and it's tough to fight out of that."
Sikeston actually backed off on its full-court pressure before the first quarter had even ended, but they were still able to generate turnovers against the Warriors.
The Bulldogs extended the lead to 62-22 by halftime and 84-38 heading into the fourth quarter.
Warrenton (3-5) connected on eight 3-pointers themselves but had no answer for Sikeston's speed in the open floor as the Bulldogs consistently beat the Warriors down the floor for layups.
Bulldog senior Janeil Hatchett scored 16 of his game-high 22 points in the first quarter. Junior Kil'Ron Coleman had a season-high 17 points. Sophomore Markeith Bratcher scored a season-high 12 points in his most extensive varsity minutes this season.
Sikeston plays third-seeded Fort Zumwalt South, 74-59 winners over Timberland, today at 4 p.m. in the semifinals.
Warrenton 11 11 16 15 -- 53
Sikeston 42 20 22 14 -- 98
WARRENTON (53) -- David Dent 11, Chris Hurtel 6, T.J. LaFavor 6, Joey Curtis 6, Matt Denton 4, Adam Smith 4, Rick Morris 4, Scott Lathrop 4, Jake Boedeker 4, Josh Boedeker 2, Isaac Boedeker 2. FG 10, FT 9-14, F 8. (3-pointers: Dent 3, Hurtel 2, LaFavor 2, Denton 1. Fouled out: none).
SIKESTON (98) -- Janeil Hatchett 22, Kil'Ron Coleman 17, Markeith Bratcher 12, Darryl Howard 9, Will Holifield 9, Terry Jamison 8, Caleb McGee 6, Eldridge Gibson 6, Corey Porter 5, Keldon Warfield 4. FG 28, FT 6-12, F 16. (3-pointers: Holifield 3, Bratcher 2, McGee 2, Coleman 1, Hatchett 1, Howard 1, Jamison 1, Porter 1. Fouled out: none).