With Jackson holding the Bulldogs' top three scorers to only 12 points Tuesday, the Sikeston reserves stepped in and filled the void nicely, led by Eldridge Gibson, who was thrust into a starting role. The 6-1 junior started in place of Darryl Howard, who has been sick, and led the Bulldogs with 14 points while pulling down five rebounds.
But it wasn't just Gibson that stepped up as juniors Caleb McGee, Keldon Warfield and sophomore guard Vashawn Ruffin combined to score 21 points off the bench.
"Darryl's been sick and isn't a 100 percent so Eldridge stepped in and really did well and was very productive," said Sikeston coach Gregg Holifield. "Our bench has been very steady. They come in every night and a different guy steps up. I thought Vashawn really played well and Caleb and Keldon really gave us some valuable minutes there."
Ruffin scored eight points in three quarters of action after playing two on the junior varsity and McGee and Warfield added seven and six points respectively.
"We just go against (the starters) every day in practice and we are getting better and better every day," McGee said. "We know that's what we have to do to be the best team we can be. We have to play our role and know our role and not get caught up in whose starting, but just come in and play hard when we are in there and get the job done."
The job was difficult from the start as Jackson employed a methodical offense that was designed to control the tempo and take the Bulldogs out of their normal up-and-down style. The strategy seemed to be working early as Sikeston led 2-0 after a game opening basket by Gibson, but Jackson then passed the ball around the perimeter and didn't take their first shot until 5:35 remaining in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs still seemed to dominate the frame, building a 10-0 lead until Jackson scored the final two baskets of the quarter, making it just a two possession game at 10-4.
Holifield said the Bulldogs weren't expecting Jackson to come out and slow the tempo to that extent.
"(Jackson) really worked hard at trying to control the pace of the game," Holifield said. "Fortunately we were able to force some turnovers that allowed us to get going a little bit and build a lead."
The Indians continued their methodical methods in the second quarter, but Sikeston started to break the Indian defense down for open shots and built a 31-16 lead at the half, with help from six points from Warfield in the paint.
"(Jackson's strategy) was just a different look and we had never had anybody play us like that," McGee said. "It worked for a little bit but they just couldn't really stop us on the defensive end and then in the second half they couldn't really do it because they were in a hole."
As has been Sikeston's M.O., the Bulldogs came out strong in the second half. After Jackson quickly scored the first four points of the quarter to cut the lead to 31-20, Sikeston outscored the Indians 17-2 over the next six minutes, including eight points from Gibson.
"We always have good third quarters," Gibson said. "That's when our offense steps up. It was a team effort. Everybody stepped up when they had to."
"Our kids really responded well and came out in the second half and we added on to that lead which is very important," Holifield said. "In my opinion, the first three minutes of the second half is the most important part of the game and we really emphasize that and we were allowed to come out and play a good pace and set the tempo."
The Bulldogs led 54-24 after three quarters and with the game safely in hand, cruised to the 60-32 final, improving to 17-0 on the season.
Besides Gibson, Corey Porter was the only other Bulldog in double figures with 10 points. The senior also pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.
Jackson was led by 6-8 junior John Meyer's 11 points and seven rebounds. Zach McDowell added 10.
JACKSON (32) -- John Meyer 11, Zach McDowell 10, Bobby Clark 6, Caleb Newcomer 3, Brad Clary 2. FG 12, FT 6-7, F 12. (3-pointers: McDowell 1, Newcomer 1. Fouled out: none)
SIKESTON (60) -- Eldridge Gibson 14, Corey Porter 10, Vashawn Ruffin 8, Janeil Hatchett 7, Caleb McGee 7, Keldon Warfield 6, Darryl Howard 5, Terry Jamison 3. FG 23, FT 9-14, F 13. (3-pointers: Ruffin 2, Jamison 1, Howard 1, Porter 1. Fouled out: none).
The Sikeston junior varsity Bulldogs won a thriller over Jackson 56-54 on Tuesday, marking their 42nd straight win.
Sikeston led 44-32 entering the final quarter but Jackson, led by freshman Karson King's 17 points, put the Indians ahead 54-52 with under a minute to play.
The Bulldogs weren't going to be denied however, as J.T. Jones hit a 3-pointer with 30 seconds remaining to give Sikeston a slim 55-54 lead.
Jackson had a shot to take the lead with seven seconds remaining but the ball rimmed out and the Indians were over-the-back on the rebound sending Markeith Bratcher to the free throw line. Bratcher hit one-of-two free throws and a half-court heave from Jackson's Braxton McDowell went off the back of the rim as time expired, improving the Bulldogs' record to 14-0.
JACKSON (54) -- Karson King 22, Josh Daume 10, Luke Stevens 9, Skyler Steele 8, Braxton McDowell 3, Calvin Lysell 2. FG 17, FT 13-21, F 15. (3-pointers: Daume 3, King 2, McDowell 1, Steele 1. Fouled out: none)
SIKESTON (56) -- J.T. Jones 14, Markeith Bratcher 14, Cord Sheehy 9, Vashawn Ruffin 9, Reese Porter 4, Rayshundre Jackson 2, Kyland Gross 2, Jeterrance Harris 2. FG 23, FT 6-11, F 16. (3-pointers: Jones 2, Sheehy 1, Bratcher 1. Fouled out: none).