On Friday night, when Poplar Bluff tried to run long offensive possessions in an attempt to keep the clock running, the Bulldogs didn't panic by gambling for steals, but rather, stayed in good defensive position and waited for the Mules to make a mistake.
The strategy continues to work well for the Bulldogs as they blasted the Mules 70-30 at the Field House in a SEMO Conference game.
Sikeston (18-3, 3-2 SEMO Conference) has now defeated Poplar Bluff nine out of the last 10 meetings between the two schools.
"We came out and did a good job of pressuring the ball and not getting out of what we wanted to do," Sikeston coach Gregg Holifield said. "They came out and were very patient. I thought our kids did a good job of keeping their composure and working hard and being patient on defense. We kept good pressure on the basketball and forced some turnovers. Getting an early lead was important and we were able to build off that."
The Mules (6-13, 1-3 SEMO Conference) came into the game struggling this season and a rash of injuries and illness have made things worse, forcing coach Lamont Frazier to go with a youthful lineup that included three freshmen and three sophomores.
"We're beat up. We're young. We have everything going against us that you can have going wrong at this time of year," Frazier said.
With such an inexperienced lineup, the Mules stood little chance against the Class 4, No. 2 ranked Bulldogs, winners of their last eight games.
Frazier felt the only way his team could make a game of it was by using long, drawn out offensive possessions.
"My thing coming out was I wanted to keep the clock running, because if the clock's running, they don't get to go to their bench," Frazier said. "If we could do that and we could take a minute, two minutes at a time and keep that clock running, that was our offensive way of playing defense. Because I knew once they got it they were going to run. We had one stretch in there where we kind of sped up and when that happened, it just kind of opened the floodgates up and we never recovered from it."
After the Mules ran over a minute off the clock on their opening possession, Sikeston got a steal and Terry Jamison converted a conventional 3-point play on the other end.
The rout was on.
The Bulldogs raced out to an 8-0 lead to start the game and were never challenged, leading 14-4 after one quarter. The Bulldogs out-scored the Mules 22-7 in the second quarter to take a 36-11 lead by halftime.
The Mules continued to remain patient on offense in the second half, but the Bulldogs still out-scored them 13-6 in the third quarter to lead 49-17, enforcing the mercy rule for much of the fourth quarter.
Sikeston out-rebounded the Mules 32-16 in the game and shot a respectable 27-of-52 (52 percent) from the field and were 12-14 (86 percent) from the free throw line.
The Bulldogs were led by senior Kil'Ron Coleman's 14 points, five rebounds and four assists. Sophomore J.T. Jones followed up with 13 points and eight rebounds.
Senior Keldon Warfield had 12 points and junior Vashawn Ruffin scored 10.
"I was really proud of our effort on the boards and I thought we had good moments where we controlled that," Holifield said. "I thought offensively we did a good job of sharing the basketball and getting good looks. We had some good moments offensively and defensively."
The Bulldogs had 22 assists compared to 13 turnovers in the game.
The Mules shot just 13-37 (35 percent) from the field and turned the ball over 14 times.
Poplar Bluff was led by Stacey Gipson, a 6-5 sophomore, with 13 points.
"They're very young, no doubt about it," Holifield said of the Mules. "They're a team that always plays us tough and are very capable. They've beaten Jackson and have beaten some good teams and have good wins under their belt. Their younger players are going to get better every day. I was proud of our team for stepping up and playing well."
Despite coming into the game with the odds against his team, Frazier was excited for his young players to get game experience in the intimidating environment of the Field House.
"I like it. I told the guys coming in that this is one of the best atmospheres that you're going to play in," Frazier said. "Their crowd gets into it and it brings out the best in their players and consequently you've got to be ready to play. The teams that have come in here and won were ready to play. They've beaten some very good teams and I look for them to make the big trip back to Columbia again."
Sikeston's next game will be at Cape Central on Friday with junior varsity action starting at 6 p.m.
The Sikeston J.V. team improved to 15-2 on the season with a 64-24 victory over Poplar Bluff.
The Bulldogs led 19-5 after one quarter and 44-14 by halftime.
Reese Porter led the team with 10 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Freshman Corbyn Blissett followed up with 10 points, six rebounds and five assists. Chriss Scott added five steals.
POPLAR BLUFF (30) -- Stacy Gipson 13, Kendric McCain 6, Lance Gray 5, Chris Stocks 4, Michael Griggs 2. FG 12, FT 3-6, F 11. (3-pointers: Gray 1. Fouled out: none).
SIKESTON (70) -- Kil'Ron Coleman 14, J.T. Jones 13, Keldon Warfield 12, Vashawn Ruffin 10, Markeith Bratcher 8, Kyland Gross 4, Terry Jamison 4, Cord Sheehy 3, Caleb McGee 2. FG 23, FT 12-14, F 13. (3-pointers: Ruffin 2, Sheehy 1, Coleman 1. Fouled out: none).
POPLAR BLUFF (24) -- Chris Stocks 5, Lucas Tibbs 5, Brandon Stuckenschneider 4, Tyler Norton 3, Andy Whitworth 3, Patrick Tillman 2. FG 6, FT 9-15, F 16. (3-pointers: Whitworth 1. Fouled out: none).
SIKESTON (64) -- Reese Porter 10, Corbyn Blissett 10, Jairius Ray 8, Jeterrence Harris 8, Dantrell Brown 6, Steven Baker 6, Chris Scott 6, Zach Jackson 4, Peyton Boyd 4, Zach Harrison 2. FG 23, FT 12-19, F 12. (3-pointers: Ray 2. Fouled out: none).