O'FALLON -- In a rematch of last year's championship game in the St. Dominic Christmas Tournament, the Sikeston Bulldogs once again proved to be too quick, too fast and too deep for the bigger Wentzville Holt Indians, winning 87-63 on Wednesday at St. Dominic High School.
Top-seeded Sikeston advances to the title game where they will play No. 6 seed St. Dominic tomorrow night at 7:30. St. Dominic upset No. 2 seed Parkway North on a breakaway layup at the buzzer to win 53-52.
"They're a very good basketball team and they're well-coached," Sikeston coach Gregg Holifield said of St. Dominic. "It's a challenge we really look forward to, playing them on their home court in front of a great atmosphere."
The Bulldogs led for most of the game on Wednesday against fifth-seeded Holt, holding a 41-30 edge at the half, but Sikeston exploded in the second half and won the game going away.
Holt featured a lineup of post players at 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-9, but Sikeston's quickness and pressure defense was too much for the Indians to handle.
"It's a great win for us," Holifield said. "They're a very talented team. I thought at times we played like we are capable of playing. I thought in stretches we played as well as we have all year."
Sikeston led 63-49 after three quarters and then proceeded to out-score Holt 24-14 in the fourth quarter as the relentless Bulldog pressure and the fresh bodies wore down the Indians.
Holt turned the ball over 28 times in the contest.
"All the credit goes to Sikeston," Holt coach Johnnie Williams said. "They come at you in waves and with every wave the intensity and pace increases. That's a lot for a team that's not nine deep. The energy level of the Sikeston kids, the effort that they give, if you can't match that possession for possession, you're in for a long night against them."
Sikeston jumped out to a 17-13 first quarter lead, forcing 12 Holt turnovers in the process. The Bulldogs, however, quickly saw themselves in foul trouble as a result of their aggressive defense.
Sikeston's bench players stepped up to the challenge, even extending the lead heading into halftime.
"It was a total team effort," Holifield said. "We got a great lift from our bench. They came in and put a lot of pressure on the ball and they just did a good job overall."
Sophomore J.T. Jones came off the bench to score 13 of his team-high 16 points. He also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Senior point guard Terry Jamison scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half. He also led the team with seven assists to go with his five rebounds and four steals.
In the third quarter, Sikeston led by as much as 60-39, but Holt managed to stay within striking distance, closing the quarter on a 10-3 run.
But the fourth quarter was all Sikeston as they continually pulled away, leading by as much as 87-58 in the fourth quarter with a couple minutes to go as reserves closed out the game.
"Their depth seemed to increase and the pace of the game kind of got away from our boys," Williams said. "But them knocking down shots I think made a difference. When you're making shots you're a little more energized. I scouted them the game before and they only made three 3's. When they're shooting well they're going to be a tough team to beat."
Holt (5-4) was led by Tre Vaughn's 16 points.
Vashawn Ruffin, despite foul trouble all night, finished with 15 points. Markeith Bratcher came off the bench and scored all 13 of his points in the second half to go with his five steals. Kil'Ron Coleman chipped in with 10 points, six steals and four assists.
The Bulldogs had 20 steals as a team and shot 8-for-22 from 3-point range. Holt out-rebounded the Bulldogs 34-28, but shot just 3-for-13 from 3-point range.
HOLT (63) --Tre Vaughn 16, Erik Peyton 12, Michael Carter 12, Tyler Shelton 12, Justin Davis 8, Mitch Wilfer 3. FG 17, FT 20-34, F 18. (3-pointers: Peyton 2, Vaughn. Fouled out: Phillip Love, Mitch Wilfer).
SIKESTON (70) -- J.T. Jones 16, Vashawn Ruffin 15, Terry Jamison 14, Markeith Bratcher 13, Kil'Ron Coleman 10, Keldon Warfield 8, Caleb McGee 6, Cord Sheehy 3, Kyland Gross 2. FG 23, FT 17-26, F 27. (3-pointers: Ruffin 3, Bratcher 2, Jamison 1, Jones 1, Sheehy 1. Fouled out: none).