(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Avenging their only loss last season, this year's Sikeston eighth grade squad came back from an early deficit to beat the Kennett Indians 58-42 on Thursday.
"I thought we played a really good game," Bulldogs' eighth grade coach Derek James said. "You never know what to expect in the opening game of the season when you're playing a really talented Kennett team that hasn't lost a game.
"They came in 6-0 this year and haven't lost in two years. This is an excellent win for us. We've been looking forward to this game for a long time and we beat a really good team today. I'm really proud of the kids."
Coming out of the gate slow, Sikeston saw the Indians score eight-straight points to start the game before taking a 14-5 advantage to end the frame.
Coming out hot in the second quarter, however, the Bulldogs got nine points from Jaylen Mallory as they surged past Kennett to take a 26-20 lead into the break.
The turning point came when, with five minutes left in the half, Mallory hit an open layup to close Sikeston to within 14-12. A basket by Cedric McIntyre shortly after, tied the game.
With 2:55 to go, the Bulldogs took their first lead of the game when Mallory was fouled going to the basket. He connected on both he shot to put Sikeston up 19-17.
Though Kennett came back to tie, the Bulldogs took the lead for good when Mallory stole the ball and passed to Dominique Dyes for a 3-pointer to put Sikeston up 22-19 with 2:44 left in the half.
Already holding a six-point advantage at half, Sikeston went on to outscore the Indians 32-22 in the final two quarters to secure the win.
"They're just so big and strong and fast, they kind of shell-shocked us a little bit early," James said. "They were beating us down the floor and then what really turned it around was we just made a couple shots and our energy level picked up.
"A couple made shots really got us going and we just started feeding off our own energy. Everybody was in to it, the whole bench was fired up. I knew we could beat these guys if we played smart and hard."
Leading Sikeston, Dyes had a game-high 19 points with Mallory contributing 15 to the Bulldog's cause. McIntyre was third on the team with 10 points.
For the Indians, Akeem Nelson had 15 points, followed by Andre Oliver with nine.
Earlier in the night, Sikeston's seventh grade team was able to pull a 12-point lead out of the first quarter before rolling to a 51-28 win.
"We came out with a pretty good intensity," Sikeston seventh grade coach Eric Vorhees said. "Our press worked real well and I thought it caused some problems for them right out of the gate.
"We jumped up 10-0 quickly and it was a little better than we had anticipated. We had heard Kennett has a really good team and they were."
Outscoring the Indians in all four quarters, the Bulldogs were led by Phayzon Fobbs, who had 11 points before the half before finishing with a game-high 15.
Vorhees credited Fobbs success in the game on his aggressiveness.
"Fobbs was kind of told to take a more active approach," Vorhees said. "He was being real laid back in practice. So we talked to him this week about taking it the hole.
"We had seen on the film that Kennett, the way they shifted their defense, that we could really attack with our point guards and that's what we did in both the seventh and eighth grade games."
Other contributers to Sikeston's win included Deshawn Aldridge and Sam Cox who had 10 and nine points respectively with Jamahn Shannon and Jaden Lane scoring five points each.
With 10 players scoring on the night, Kennett was led by Thomas Ty'reik and Kenny Jeffrey, who scored six points apiece.