However, the Bulldogs could not overcome an inspired Cape Central team on both homecoming and senior night in a packed gymnasium on Friday as the Tigers won a thrilling SEMO Conference battle, 56-54.
The Bulldogs had one last opportunity to possibly tie the game when taking the ball out of bounds under their own goal with 1.9 seconds left, but when sophomore J.T. Jones received the pass, he was immediately surrounded by the Tigers' defense and was unable to get a shot up.
The final horn sounded, sending Cape Central's players and fans into a wild celebration on the court.
It was a frustrating loss for the Bulldogs, who blew a 12-point lead in the game and were appearing to have hit full stride with an eight-game winning streak coming into the contest.
"I thought we played well in the first half, but you have to give Cape Central credit, they came out in the second half and really did a great job and took away what we were doing," Sikeston coach Gregg Holifield said. "I thought their size wore on us and they took advantage of that."
The Bulldogs never could find answers for Cape Central's post tandem of 6-foot-6 T.J. Tisdell and 6-5 sophomore Jamal Cox, who finished with 21 and 14 points, respectively.
Cox scored eight of his points in the pivotal third quarter.
"That was one of our emphases at the half, we wanted to slow down and get it inside," Cape Central coach Drew Church said. "It was a great game. A great atmosphere. Both teams battled hard. It was just our night towards the end. We were able to slow the game like we wanted and get the ball in the right people's hands. Luckily we made some free throws at the end because it could've gone either way."
The Bulldogs (18-4, 3-3 SEMO Conference) broke a tie game with a 3-pointer by Terry Jamison to start the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs held their last lead on a Jones basket at 47-46.
Then Tisdell began to take over, scoring seven consecutive points to give his Tigers the lead for good.
The Bulldogs trailed by as much as six at two different points in the final 2:24, but they still managed to have a shot at a potential victory with seconds left.
After Garan Evans missed the front end of a one and one free throw with a 56-54 lead, Sikeston had 14 seconds to work for a possible game-tying or game-winning shot.
The Tigers, however, with four fouls to give before the bonus free throw situation, began fouling the Bulldogs on purpose to keep them from setting up an offense.
The strategy worked as Sikeston never got a shot up.
On the play that set up the final sequence, Jamison was fouled and tried to put up a shot in the same motion, but a brief discussion among the officials ruled that the foul was committed before the act of shooting, despite the protests of the Sikeston coaches and fans.
On the final play, the Tigers were able to get hands on the ball of Jones, which kept him from getting a shot up.
"We didn't want to call a timeout because we knew Sikeston didn't have any and didn't want them to be able to draw up a play," Church said. "The ball was thrown in, you didn't really know if it was a jump ball or foul, but that's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. I was proud of our guys for fighting till the end."
Holifield didn't elaborate much on the final sequence.
"We were just trying to get the ball inbounds," he said. "We didn't have any timeouts left, there was 1.9 seconds left. It just didn't work out for us."
The first quarter, however, worked well for the Bulldogs.
After falling behind 4-0 to start the game, the Bulldogs erupted with a 19-3 run to lead 19-7.
Tisdell converted a conventional 3-point play with nine seconds left in the quarter to cut the lead to 19-10.
The Bulldogs still controlled most of the second quarter, leading by as much as 31-20 on a Markeith Bratcher layup, but Cape Central's Tim Booker drained a 3-pointer with seconds left in the period to cut the lead to 31-23 by halftime
The Tigers began their comeback in the third behind Cox's 10 points in the first four minutes.
The Bulldogs still led 42-40 on a Vashawn Ruffin pull up jumper, but the Tigers finished the quarter strong once again, this time on a tipped-in offensive rebound by Jacob Boerboom to tie the score just before the horn sounded.
"We got sluggish offensively and defensively," Holifield said. "We weren't putting the pressure on the ball like we were in the first half. We got to standing. We just didn't do a good job. The bottom line is you can't come out sluggish in the second half. They're a very good team on their home court and you can't allow that to happen."
The Bulldogs actually shot the ball well from the 3-point line, knocking down 7-of-16 (44 percent), but they were just 23-57 (40 percent) overall from the field, much of which can be attributed to the Tigers' intimidating shot-blockers inside.
The Bulldogs were led by Jamison's 14 points, including 4-6 from 3-point range.
Kil'Ron Coleman and Keldon Warfield each had 11 points. Warfield grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the team.
In addition to shooting the ball poorly from the field, the Bulldogs were not able to force turnovers consistently against the Tigers after the first quarter.
This marks Sikeston's second conference loss in as many trips at Cape Central (17-6, 4-1 SEMO), owing another loss in the 2010 season.
"Anybody can beat anybody any night, especially in our conference," Church said. "We were fortunate tonight, but Sikeston is a heck of a team. Gregg does a great job, those kids play extremely hard and they are tough to play against."
The Sikeston J.V. team improved to 15-2 on the season with a 43-36 victory over Cape Central.
The Bulldogs led 10-2 after one quarter and were able to shake off several Cape Central rallies to pull out the victory.
Sikeston was led by Jairius Ray's 13 points, six rebounds and three steals. Jeterrence Harris followed up with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Andre Statam led Cape Central with 15 points.
SIKESTON (54) -- Terry Jamison 14, Keldon Warfield 11, Kil'Ron Coleman 11, Vashawn Ruffin 6, Markeith Bratcher 5, Cord Sheehy 3, Caleb McGee 2. FG 15, FT 3-4, F 17. (3-pointers: Jamison 4, Coleman 1, Sheehy 1, Bratcher 1. Fouled out: none).
CAPE CENTRAL (56) -- T.J. Tisdell 21, Jamal Cox 14, Tim Booker 6, Vance Toole 5, Jacob Boerboom 4, Garon Evans 3, Ross McClanahan 3. FG 18, FT 12-21, F 9. (3-pointers: Toole 1, Booker 1. Fouled out: none).
SIKESTON (43) -- Jairius Ray 13, Jeterrence Harris 10, Chris Scott 7, Corbyn Blissett 4, Reese Porter 4, Peyton Boyd 3, Marquise Parks 2. FG 15, FT 7-16, F 13. (3-pointers: Ray 1, Scott 1. Fouled out: none).
CAPE CENTRAL (36) -- Andre Statam 15, Chandler Bagley 5, Austin Bagley 5, Dusty Tolbert 5, Bo Wilferth 4, Jacob Boerboom 2. FG 8, FT 11-15, F 15. (3-pointers: C. Bagley 1, A. Bagley 1, Tolbert 1. Fouled out: A. Bagley).