(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
CAPE GIRARDEAU -- Following an emotional home loss to arch rival Charleston on Friday, the Sikeston Bulldogs showed no hangover less than 24 hours later with an impressive 69-62 win over a talented Imagine College Prep team in the 17th Annual Tiger Shootout at Cape Central High School.
"I thought it was a great win for our team," Sikeston coach Gregg Holifield said. "We had a tough loss Friday night and for our kids to bounce back against a quality team, I'm very proud of our effort."
The Bulldogs thumped Imagine Prep, 82-44, in the Class 4 quarterfinals last year on their way to the state championship, but the Bears were a much different team this time around.
Imagine Prep (11-6) showed a tremendous shooting touch from beyond the arc, patience on offense, and quickness on defense.
With only one senior on the Bears' team, Sikeston's big-game experience seemed to propel the team in the second half.
"They had a good will to win and we're young and still learning," Imagine coach Tony Irons said. "They just made a lot of plays in the fourth quarter towards the end and that shows that they've been there before and we're trying to get there."
Leading just 52-50 entering the fourth quarter, Imagine tied the game twice, but never could get the lead as Sikeston continued to come up with big plays, especially on the rebounding end.
Senior Keldon Warfield and sophomore J.T. Jones came up with the key rebounds late in the game.
"Both Keldon and J.T. were outstanding," Holifield said. "They worked hard and worked hard to get position and did a great job on the boards. But it was a total team effort. I thought Cord Sheehy did a great job of coming off the bench and giving us energy and working hard."
In the first quarter, Sikeston led by as much as 13-7 and 15-9, but the Bears were able to trim the lead to 15-13 by the end of the quarter.
Imagine began to take control in the second quarter, leading by as 34-27 midway through the period, but Sikeston closed the half strong with a 10-2 run highlighted by a Kil'Ron Coleman 3-pointer and then following that up with a nifty spinning layup on a fastbreak to lead 37-36 at the half.
While Imagine was able to tie the score seven different times in the second half, the Bulldogs answered everything the Bears threw at them.
"Our kids were definitely fired up to play them, especially with what happened last year of course," Irons said. "Any chance we get to come down and play a great team and to get prepared and use this when we get back home and try to get better. We definitely wanted to play them, because this will make us a better team."
Sikeston out-rebounded the Bears 33-21 in the game, but they were only able to force six turnovers on Imagine Prep, which forced Holifield to make a slight defensive adjustment.
"We really just had to contain the ball and keep ourselves in good defensive position and back up a little bit," Holifield said. "I thought we did a much better job in the second half of covering shooters and keeping the ball out of the middle of the floor."
The Bulldogs (11-3) turned the ball over 13 times and only had three steals in the game.
Sikeston was 3-for-9 from 3-point range while the Bears drained 6-of-19 from beyond the arc. The Bulldogs shot 24-47 (51 percent) overall from the field.
Sikeston was led by Jones with 15 points, including eight in the fourth quarter. He also had seven rebounds.
Warfield scored a season-high in points for the second straight game with 14 on Saturday. He also had six rebounds.
Vashawn Ruffin added 11 points and and five rebounds while Coleman scored nine points with six rebounds.
The Bears were led by Martavian Payne, one of the top juniors in the St. Louis area, with 20 points, including three 3-pointers.
Kevin Baker added 14 points and Jeremiah Price scored 10.
"I think they're very talented," Holifield said. "They're a good team and they play great competition. I knew it would be a difficult game. It was everything I thought it would be -- it was back and forth and they're hard to contain. But to our kids' credit, I thought they really pulled together as a team and did a great job."
Sikeston will have another difficult road game today when they take on undefeated and state-ranked DeSoto.
IMAGINE PREP (62) -- Martavian Payne 20, Kevin Baker 14, Jeremiah Price 10, Miles Nettles 6, Kenneth Harris 5, Taj Mohammed 3, Devonte Dillard 2, Eric Clark 2. FG 18, FT 8-10, F 24. (3-pointers: Payne 3, Baker 1, Mohammed 1, Harris 1. Fouled out: none).
SIKESTON (69) -- J.T. Jones 15, Keldon Warfield 14, Vashawn Ruffin 11, Kil'Ron Coleman 9, Terry Jamison 6, Markeith Bratcher 6, Cord Sheehy 5, Caleb McGee 3. FG 21, FT 18-28, F 12. (3-pointers: Coleman 1, Sheehy 1, McGee 1. Fouled out: none).