(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- This time, the Sikeston Bulldogs didn't need the 3-point shot.
In their second game with the Dexter Bearcats in just four days, the Bulldogs pounded the ball inside and dominated the glass during their 80-34 win on Monday to open the first round of the SEMO Conference Tournament at the Sikeston Field House.
Sikeston (4-0) has nailed 28 3-pointers in their first three games, adding the outside shot to their already deadly arsenal of pressure defense and forcing numerous turnovers.
Dexter already knew how deadly the Bulldogs can be from long range as the defending Class 4 state champions hit seven against them just last Friday during a 68-35 regular season win at the Bearcat Event Center.
Although they planned for a barrage of long balls, the Bearcats were blistered inside.
"They have shot several from outside as of late and thats something we took notice of," Dexter coach Rob Nichols said. "They pounded us inside, though. They got several offensive boards. We actually tried to get out on some of their shooters a little more, but they made us pay inside."
Sikeston grabbed a total of 41 rebounds -- 21 offensive and 20 defensive -- that either went straight back up for a bucket or limited Dexter's offense to one shot.
Sikeston's post presence, Keldon Warfield, snared 13 boards which included eight offensive rebounds to go with eight points.
Off the bench, Sikeston's other post-player, J.T. Jones, grabbed five offensive rebounds and eight points.
"They did a good job," Sikeston coach Gregg Holifield said about his two inside men. "They were posting and had their defenders on their backs. I thought our guards did a good job of looking in and giving them the basketball. We've got to really work on cutting better and keeping our movement, but overall, we were better.
"Keldon did a great job on the glass. He's getting better each game."
Sikeston's inside presence is something Holifield has emphasized as of late. It takes him a little by surprise how well they control the glass at times because most of the time, the Bulldogs are undersized in that department.
"That's been a point of emphasis for us," Holifield said. "We've really been working hard to try and establish our post-game. We have to go inside to get our outside game established. Hopefully, we'll get better at that because we have been working so hard on that.
"As small as we are I think it's going to be a strength of ours down the road. You have to control the boards to control the game and I hope to think thats an area we're only going to get better at each game."
While the post play of the Bulldogs was the key, it didn't stop them from shooting from behind the arc. Sikeston attempted 14 3-pointers but hit only three.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the first two and a half minutes. A timeout by Dexter led to five unanswered points by the Bearcats to make it a 2-point game, but that would be the closest the No. 8 seed would come to overtaking the Bulldogs.
Sikeston rattled off a 16-5 run to end the first quarter, which put them firmly in the driver's seat. They continued to cruise by opening up an 18-point lead to begin the second frame after a 3-pointer by Caleb McGee and a bucket by Terry Jamison, who dropped in 13 points on 6 of 8 shooting.
The Bulldogs kept pouring it on and extended their lead in the third quarter, holding a 63-29 advantage going into the final eight minutes.
Sikeston shot 52 percent (35 of 67) from the floor and came up with a total of 13 steals.
Vashawn Ruffin, who shot a near perfect 5 of 6 from the field, scored 13 points in the win, while Markeith Bratcher added 12 points and eight rebounds.
Jake Lee led Dexter (0-3) with 12 points. Tyler Miller chipped in with 11.
This is Dexter's 12th-straight loss against the Bulldogs, who defeated the Bearcats 68-35 on Friday.
"We actually played worse," Nichols said. "It looked like we were mentally beat before we even took the floor. I think it was a case of that. They beat you 30 points on Friday, it's tough for a player to get up mentally to come back and do it Monday. I expected us to play a little better than that, but Sikeston may do that to several teams this year."
The top-seeded Bulldogs will take on the fourth-seeded Notre Dame Bulldogs on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the semifinal round. Notre Dame defeated Jackson later Monday night, 67-40. Dexter will play No. 5 Jackson tonight at 7:30 in the consolation semifinals.
DEXTER (34) -- Chase Young 4, Tyler Miller 11, DJ Dowdy 2, Brad Potts 2, Jake Lee 12, Cody Neldon 3. FG 13 FT 7-14 F 7 (3-pointers: Miller 1. Fouled out: none.)
SIKESTON (80) -- Kil'ron Coleman 11, Kyland Gross 4, Cord Sheehy 4, Caleb McGee 5, Vashawn Ruffin 13, Keldon Warfield 8, Terry Jamison 13, J.T. Jones 8, Jetterence Harris 2, Markeith Bratcher 12. FG 35 FT 7-10 F 12 (3-pointers: Coleman 1, McGee 1, Jamison 1. Fouled out: none.)