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Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

Sikeston takes away much from tough competition

Sunday, June 12, 2011

(Photo)
Sikeston's Kil'Ron Coleman goes up for a shot against Imagine College Prep in the Rib City Shootout on Friday evening at the Bearcat Event Center in Dexter. David Jenkins, Staff
DEXTER -- Soldan head coach Justin Tatum and his Tigers did exactly what they set out to do.

On top of playing tough competition at the 2011 Rib City Shootout, they caught a glimpse of last year's Class 4 state champion Sikeston Bulldogs on two different occasions --defeating the defending champs each time.

They'll be sure to stow away their two summer encounters with Sikeston on Thursday and Friday at the Bearcat Event Center for a possible matchup next March.

"It was all-in-all a good trip," Tatum said about his two-hour trek from St. Louis. "We got to see the state champions twice and another good team in Dyer County. We did pretty good."

The Bulldogs, however, received a reminder that much is to be done if they are to hoist another trophy next season.

Sikeston lost a total of three games during their two-day stretch in Dexter. They lost twice to fellow Class 4 power Soldan and once to Dyer County, Tenn.

"They're one of the best teams of the state, undoubtedly," Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield said about Soldan. "We really got to work to get to the level they are right now."

The Bulldogs also met up with another Class 4 opponent in Imagine Prep, who they defeated during the quarterfinal round last season. Sikeston beat them 54-41 the first meeting and then squeaked by in their finale, 47-46.

Soldan, who finished 23-7 last season with a Missouri state, third-place trophy, overcame the Bulldogs 50-37 in their first game on Thursday and then defeated Sikeston 53-34 during their flight championship on Friday.

"It was a good challenge for us," Tatum said. "It let us know where we need to be at and lets us know what to expect from the other side hopefully later down the road."

Soldan lost just one game during their eight games in the Rib City Shootout.

Dyer County defeated the Tigers by one point in what could have been chalked up as a scorekeeping snafu. Nonetheless, the Tigers were looking to better their senior-laden team in late game situations, as well as other areas.

"We enjoyed a lot of it," Tatum said about their two days in Dexter. "What we tried to work on because we have a veteran team coming back is our poise and understanding of how to close games out.

"Dyer County proved that we still need adjustments. We wanted to rebound from that and I think my guys excelled mentality from that."

Tatum likes the fact that they escaped Dexter with two wins against the Bulldogs, but is still quick to point out that Sikeston remains the champions.

"It feels pretty good. Real good," he said. "They are the champions and anytime you can beat them it's always good."

Before Sikeston took on Soldan in their shootout championship, the Bulldogs had an uphill climb against Imagine Prep.

Imagine had just a two-point lead, 22-20, at halftime but extended that lead to as much as 17 points to begin the second half.

Sikeston spouted off 16 unanswered points, however, and eventually took a 46-45 lead within the final minute.

Imagine tied the game at 46 later on, but with 1.5 seconds remaining Sikeston's Eldridge Gibson hit one of two free throws to give the Bulldogs the lead.

Gibson again came threw in the clutch on the defensive side by thwarting the Imagine inbound pass to seal it.

It was a game that took the feel of a playoff atmosphere. Emotions ran high on both sides while spectators surrounded the center court to take in the action.

"It was very intense," Holifield said. "They play very hard and it was a team we saw in the quarterfinals last year. They're much improved. We just hope to have the opportunity to play those teams again."

Although their three losses could be labeled as just 'summer league losses', the comparisons between Sikeston and possibly the teams they could meet in the next post season have been drawn.

"I'm really looking forward to the season, practice and getting better," Holifield said. "I think we have a lot of potential to be a good team also.

"It was great for our kids. We really saw great competition and your only going to get better seeing these kind of people."


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