(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
CHAFFEE -- Eventually, the Sikeston Lady Bulldogs' torrid pace wore down the Woodland Lady Cardinals.
The size and strength of the Lady Cardinals posed challenges for the No. 1 seed in the Lady Devils Invitational Tournament early on but, unlike Woodland, Sikeston kept up their fast-paced style to eventually pull away for a 60-51 win.
"What we do is run -- up and down, up and down," Sikeston senior Keyonna Blissett said. "At the pace that we go, even if there's no openings, we'll find something. It's always moving, passing, screening and cutting. We usually make it easier on ourselves."
Sikeston advanced to the tournament semifinals where they will take on the winner of the Scott City-Delta game, which is tonight at 6 p.m.
"We knew we were going to be in for a dog fight," Sikeston coach Matt Schonhoff said about Woodland. "They came out and played very, very hard. Their size bothered us the first half, but we wanted to get them up and down the court and get them to our speed."
Kendra Pinkley served as Woodland's inside catalyst scoring 11 of their 15 first quarter points. Pinkley simply cut through the middle, received a lob over the outstretched hands of Sikeston defenders and laid it in.
"We're a short team, so if we're facing a taller team, we have to be smarter, faster and quicker," Blissett said.
Although they fell behind by one point against that tactic, Sikeston regained the lead with 28 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Tyangela Gibson, who scored 14 points on 6 of 12 shooting, banked in a shot to give her team a 24-22 advantage. It would turn out to be a lead Sikeston would never relinquish.
During the second half, the Lady Bulldogs began to slowly pull away as their pressure defense continually wore down Woodland.
"The first quarter they started to wear, the second quarter they started to wear and by the time we got to the second half, you could tell they were tired," Schonhoff said. "We were able to get easy layups and they missed a lot of free throws that would have helped them towards the end of the game."
The Lady Bulldogs went up by as much as nine points in the third quarter, where Gibson scored eight of her 14 points.
Sikeston began the fourth frame with an 8-0 run to go up 54-39. Woodland cut the lead to seven with 1:10 left to play, but failed to get any closer before time ran out.
Taneshia Pulley poured in 12 points and nine rebounds. Quesha Howard scored four points but added a productive eight rebounds, seven assists and five steals.
WOODLAND (51) -- Josie Long 14, Kathlyn Cooper 6, Keighlyn Lincoln 6, Lindsay Shell 4, Kendra Pinkley 21. FG 20 FT 11-22 F 14 (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: none.)
SIKESTON (60) -- Tyangela Gibson 14, Keyonna Blissett 17, Quesha Howard 4, Leah Little 4, Taneshia Pulley 12, Jalen Peet 1, Yalanda Johnson 4, Danika Garmon 4. FG 25 FT 9-14 F 21 (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: none.)