(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- It was a tense last few minutes, but Sikeston was able to send its lone senior, Vonteria Applewhite, out with a win Wednesday night in the Lady Bulldogs' last home game of the season.
After building a 16-point lead late in the second quarter against visiting Cape Central, Sikeston saw the surging Lady Tigers pull to within one possession late in the third quarter and hang around until tying the game at 49-49 with 42 seconds left in the fourth.
Only making two of their final eight free throws in the final 38 seconds, the Lady Bulldogs kept Cape Central's hopes alive until the final buzzer, but with the Lady Tigers missing their last two shots of the game, Sikeston held on to win, 51-49.
"With it being senior night we came out with a lot of emotion and a lot of fire," Lady Bulldogs' head coach Matt Schonhoff said. "The second quarter we got up (27-11) and we had control. The press was dominating, we were getting missed (Cape Central) shots, rebounds, outlets and good shots on offense.
"Cape Central did an excellent job of handling our pressure in the fourth quarter and making a game out of it. We both had chances to win it or throw it away so we were just lucky to win."
Early on, things looked like Sikeston (16-7) might rout the Lady Tigers (9-12), opening the game on a 13-2 run and plowing ahead to a 27-11 advantage with 2:48 left in the second quarter on a basket by Tyangela Gibson.
Starting with two minutes left in the first half, however, Cape Central's offense found new life, ending the quarter scoring eight consecutive points, including a pair of buckets by Bailey Kratochvil, to cut their deficit to eight entering the break.
Picking up where they left off, Cape Central opened the second half on an 8-2 run, capped by a basket from Alayah Cooper-Johnson with 2:57, to close the Lady Tigers back to within two points of the Lady Bulldogs, at 29-27, for the first time since the opening minutes of the game.
"We dug ourselves a hole at the beginning of the game and we had to dig back out of that," Lady Tigers' coach Sherri Shirrell said. "You have to give Sikeston credit, they came out and put the pressure on us and we didn't handle it very well."
For the final minutes of the third quarter and all through the fourth, Sikeston let Cape Central hang close. The Lady Bulldogs were able to pull away by as many as nine to end the third frame, but let the Tigers catch back up once again in the fourth.
It was with 42 seconds left in the game, following a timeout, that the Lady Tigers came back to tie the game.
Inbounding the ball at half court, Cape Central quickly worked the ball to Kadie Orenstein on the left side of the arc, where Orenstein drilled her only 3-pointer of the night to bring the game to a tie at 49-49.
"They caught us slipping a little bit," Sikeston's Keyonna Blissett said.
Getting fouled shortly after Orentstein's 3-pointer, Gibson hit one of two free throws to put the Lady Bulldogs back on top by one, a narrow lead that was only pushed to two when Blissett hit a free throw with 1.4 seconds left after three unsuccessful Lady Tiger drives down the court.
Looking to get one last shot off after Blissett's free throw, Orenstein marched the ball to half court for Cape Central, but was unable to get the ball out of her hands before the buzzer.
"We came out and played our hearts out," Blissett said. "We came out with mental focus like coach always harps on. I just think the better team won tonight."
On a night where three Lady Bulldogs scored in the double-digits, Asia Liggins had a game-high 15 points, shooting five of seven from the floor while grabbing nine rebounds and three steals. Darqueshionna Howard had 12 points and four rebounds while Blissett finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and six steals.
As a team, Sikeston finished the game with 26 rebounds, 21 steals and 21 deflections.
"The defense was a major key in this game," Liggins said. "We did what we were told, got on the key (Cape Central) players and just played hard defense."
For the Lady Tigers, Chelsea Vinson led the way with 13 points and six rebounds with Chelsea Pannier finished with 12 points and six rebounds.
CAPE CENTRAL (49) -- Allie Hardesty 2, Alayah Cooper-Johnson 8, Bailey Kratochvil 9, Tori Scheller 2, Kadie Orenstein 3, Chelsea Pannier 12, Chelsea Vinson 13. FG 18, FT 9-15, F 18. (3-pointers: Pannier 2, Orenstein 1, Kratochvil 1. Fouled out: none)
SIKESTON (51) -- Tyangela Gibson 8, Keyonna Blissett 10, Darqueshionna Howard 12, Vonteria Applewhite 2, Asia Liggins 15, Janai Ivory 2, Aleah Little 2. FG 17, FT 15-31, F 13. (3-pointers: Gibson 1, Howard 1. Fouled out: none)