(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
DEXTER -- Gassed and still trailing after playing 3 1/2 quarters of relentless defense against Notre Dame on Wednesday, the Sikeston Lady Bulldogs put everything they had left into one final drive to keep their season alive.
Down 47-34 with 5:47 left in the semifinals of the Class 4, District 1 Tournament, Sikeston forced a quick pair of Notre Dame turnovers to fuel a 7-0 run and pull back within six with five minutes to play.
After coming up empty handed on their next five possession, however, Sikeston hopes were dashed as Notre Dames once again pulled away for a 64-46 win.
"Our pressure was really, really good tonight," Sikeston coach Matt Schonhoff said. "We made that run there about the middle part of the fourth quarter and that defensive effort just took every last gas that we had.
"We definitely had the momentum, but they took it right back."
Watching Notre Dame pull out a 28-16 lead late with just over two minutes left in the second quarter, it was a Sikeston rally in the final minute-and-a-half before the break that kept Notre Dame from running away.
Starting with an Asia Liggins basket, SHS scored six unanswered points going into the half, sinking four straight free throws to end the quarter.
Led by 10 points from Miranda Fowler in the third quarter, Notre Dame was able to once again slowly pull away, ending the frame with a 44-32 advantage.
After spending the first few minutes of the fourth battling basket-for-basket, Sikeston was able to start their above mentioned run when Taneshia Pulley sank one of two free throws, followed second later by Liggins scoring on a jumper with 5:30 to play.
Forcing turnovers on Notre Dame's next two possession, Sikeston's Darqueshionna Howard dropped in a bucket, followed by a Keyonna Blissett layup that capped a seven point SHS swing in the span of 45 seconds.
It was after Notre Dame called a quick timeout following Blissett's layup, that momentum started to shift once again.
Getting buckets on three of their next four trips down the field, Notre Dame marched back to a double-digit lead before Allyson Bradshaw made three straight layups to put her team up 60-41 with 2:28 to play.
Icing the game, Nicole Blattell and Miranda Fowler hit back-to-back shots to push Notre Dame ahead by 23 with 1:27 to play.
"We gave Notre Dame everything we had," Schonhoff said. "We just ran out of gas with about three minutes left to go."
Part of Sikeston problems was having to handle a hot Bradshaw, who after only scoring eight points in the two teams' last meeting, finished with 29 on Wednesday.
"There's a reason why she's going to SEMO," said Schonhoff. "She can shoot the daylights out of the basketball.
"Tonight she got open and, in a game like this, she stayed tested and hit big shots."
From the start of the game, Sikeston's aggressive full court defense created plenty of opportunities, for SHS as they finished the night with 14 steals and 38 rebounds, but were only able to connect on 35 percent of their shots, leading to a lot of wasted trips down the court.
"We're an off and on shooting team," Schonhoff said. "That's the way we've been all year. Tonight we did hit some jumpers, but our game is full court, get easy baskets and get into our press.
"We had chances at those layups, but in a game like this you have to make those and we didn't."
With 12 points, it was Howard Sikeston comeback in scoring while adding three steals on the defensive end. Liggins was close behind, finishing with 11 points, 12 rebounds and three steals. Pulley had 10 points, 12 rebounds and a steal.
SIKESTON (46) -- Tyangela Gibson 5, Keyonna Blissett 8, Darqueshionna Howard 12, Asiai Liggins 11, Taneshia Pulley 10. FG 18, FT 8-20, F 12. (3-pointers: Howard 2. Fouled out: none)
NORE DAME (64) -- Miranda Fowler 15, Summer Burger 11, Allyson Bradshaw 29, Brooke Bohnert 4, Nicole Blattel 5. FG 25, FT 7-11, F 15. (3-pointers: Bradshaw 4, Fowler 3. Fouled out: Blattel)