(Photo by Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
PARK HILLS -- For the third-straight year the Sikeston Bulldogs are sectional champions.
And for the third straight year, Farmington was the victim as Sikeston throttled the Knights 83-41 in Wednesday's Class 4 Sectional game at Mineral Area College.
The Bulldogs advance to the quarterfinal round on Saturday where they will face Imagine College Prep at the Farmington Civic Center at 6 p.m.
With the victory, Sikeston improves to 27-0 on the season. Farmington's season ends at 20-7.
"It's a great win, especially going on the road and playing them up here," Sikeston coach Gregg Holifield said. "We had a great crowd following tonight and hopefully we will take another great crowd to Farmington on Saturday."
Wednesday's game was just as lopsided as the Bulldogs' 95-57 victory against the Knights in early January as Sikeston forced one turnover after another.
In all, Sikeston forced 31 turnovers, including 20 in the first half.
"I thought we had good energy and effort -- we definitely created a lot of opportunities off our turnovers," Holifield said.
Farmington was actually in good shape early in the game as they held an 11-10 lead, but Sikeston exploded.
The Bulldogs went on an 18-0 run that spanned the first and second quarters. Very quickly, the Bulldogs went from trailing to dominating the game.
"We knew they were going to make a run and we just kind of lost our head when they did," Farmington coach Brett Hale said. "We kind of got mentally out of the game and we were doing things that we didn't need to do to win it, and a good team is going to recognize that and pounce on it. And Sikeston did that."
Sikeston's lead reached 24-11 just before the first quarter horn when sophomore Vashawn Ruffin had a dazzling no-look pass to Eldridge Gibson that brought the Sikeston crowd to their feet.
The Bulldogs did not let up in the second quarter either, running away to a 46-22 halftime lead.
"It just kind of snowballed on us," Hale said. "Sikeston got a couple steals there and we didn't respond and come right back at them. A good team is just going to run away with it."
Unlike last week's district championship victory against Notre Dame, the Bulldogs had no let-down in the third quarter as Sikeston opened up a commanding 70-33 lead heading into the fourth quarter where the mercy clock was put into effect.
"We wanted to keep our intensity and keep our energy level up," Holifield said. "We play our best when we play with energy and I felt we did that tonight."
The Bulldogs had 21 steals in the game and only committed 11 turnovers themselves. Sikeston grabbed 26 rebounds and shot 8-of-17 from 3-point range.
"Turnovers and rebounding, and that's the things that Sikeston does well -- they cause turnovers and they rebound well," Hale said. "You can live with dead ball turnovers when you throw it out of bounds, but we were just throwing it to them and they're going to get layups out of that. Hats off to them, that's a heck of a team. Not just their talent, but how hard they play. They play the right way and it's fun to watch."
Senior Janeil Hatchett led the way for the Bulldogs with 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting. Darryl Howard followed up with 12 points and five steals. Terry Jamison added 10 points and five assists.
Corey Porter only scored two points, but added five rebounds, four assists and four steals.
The Bulldogs had another big game from the bench as they combined to score 32 points.
"They did a great job and gave us a huge lift," Holifield said of his bench. "When they come in with that kind of energy and effort it really helps our team."
Farmington was led in scoring by Jonathon Bird's 12 points.
Now the Bulldogs will set their sights on the quarterfinal round, a level of play that has proven to be a tough roadblock the past couple seasons with losses to St. Francis Borgia.
"We're really looking forward to the quarterfinal round," Holifield said. "The players have worked very hard to get to this point. They have a focus and we will continue to work."
FARMINGTON (41) -- Jonathon Bird 12, Roper Garrett 8, Pete Grindel 6, Doug Warren 5, Chase Busenbark 4, Tim Anderson 2, Monis Zereik 2, Alec Sebastian 2. FG 13, FT 6-8, F 12. (3-pointers: Grindel 2, Warren 1. Fouled out: none).
SIKESTON (83) -- Janeil Hatchett 18, Darryl Howard 12, Terry Jamison 10, Will Holifield 9, Keldon Warfield 8, Eldridge Gibson 7, Vashawn Ruffin 7, Kil'Ron Coleman 5, Markeith Bratcher 3, J.T. Jones 2, Corey Porter 2. FG 25, FT 9-14, F 11. (3-pointers: Holifield 3, Jamison 2, Coleman 1, Bratcher 1, Ruffin 1. Fouled out: none).