(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
CAPE GIRARDEAU -- After winning five of their last seven games, including their last two, the Sikeston Lady Bulldogs were looking to keep their streak alive heading into the Class 4, District 1 tournament next week.
Cape Central wouldn't allow it.
Sikeston fell 48-42 on Wednesday at Cape Central High School ending their regular season with a record of 15-9.
The Lady Bulldogs also ended the year winless in the SEMO Conference.
"If we don't rebound and play defense, our season is over on Tuesday," Sikeston head coach Matt Schonhoff said about going into district play after this loss. "We have to work on our rebounding and defense, which are things that have gotten us wins the past two games.
"If we don't do that, it's going to be a short district tournament for us."
Cape Central juniors Chelsea Vinson and Alayah Cooper-Johnson were the thorns in Sikeston's side scoring 13 and 12 between them.
"We allowed two basketball players beat us," Schonhoff said. "We allowed them to push us around."
Vinson and Cooper-Johnson, who each did what Schonhoff wanted his girls to stop -- penetrate the lane -- each scored eight points in the first half where the Lady Tigers led 27-22.
"They're our two go-to players," Cape Central head coach Sherri Shirrell said about Vinson and Cooper-Johnson. "They're our leaders and we expect big things out of them. I thought they did a great job."
Cape Central was also able to find shooters in their ball reversal, which Sikeston couldn't close out on their shooters quick enough.
"When that happens, they're going to get easy rebounds and stick backs," said Schonhoff said. "We couldn't combat that."
Although Vinson scored six of Cape Central's 13 points in the first quarter, Sikeston wound up leading by one after a 7-2 run to close out the first period behind a 6 of 14 shooting performance.
A conventional 3-point play by Aleah Little, which were her only points on the night, gave Sikeston their biggest lead of the game, 17-13, with 6:36 left in the first half.
Six unanswered points by Cape Central -- four by Cooper-Johnson -- gave the Lady Tigers the lead once again. They would stay ahead of Sikeston until the final buzzer.
The Lady Bulldogs' committed seven turnovers and shot 2 of 11 from the floor in the second quarter. And although Cape Central outscored them 14-8 in the second, Sikeston still found themselves down 27-22 at the half.
Each team worked to a stalemate in the third quarter, both scoring 12 points apiece.
Starting the fourth quarter, Taneshia Pulley, who finished with a team high of 14 points, scored two baskets before Gibson, after a steal from Quesha Howard, pulled Sikeston to within one point, 41-40.
Cape Central (14-9), however, rattled off seven straight points -- five from the free throw line -- to distance themselves from the Lady Bulldogs with a lopsided effort on the boards.
Routinely, the Lady Tigers grabbed offensive rebounds away from Sikeston, which led to three or four offensive tries in many fourth quarter possessions.
"This had to be a team-rebounding game," Schonhoff said. "Our post players battled and were able to get some balls but it had to be a team game. With our height disadvantage, everybody has to get in there especially in the fourth quarter."
Sikeston committed five turnovers with under three minutes left when trailing by only one point. They also managed just one field goal in the last three and a half minutes when Pulley scored a meaningless bucket with three seconds remaining.
"I've probably never been prouder of my kids in any other game," Shirrell said. "We've been fighting through some flu and they really fought on the floor. In the end, we were able to get those rebounds when we needed them. We didn't rebound very well early in the game, but when we needed them we got it."
On top of her 14 points, Pulley added six rebounds. Little had six assists and Yalanda Johnson pulled down seven rebounds.
Sikeston will play Fredericktown on Tuesday during the first round of districts at 7:30 p.m. at the Sikeston Field House.
SIKESTON (42) -- Tyangela Gibson 8, Quesha Howard 5, Aleah Little 3, Mikala Nichols 6, Taneshia Pulley 14, Yalanda Johnson 2, Danika Garmon 4. FG 18 FT 4-6 F 20 (3-pointers: Gibson 1, Howard 1. Fouled out: Gibson.)
CAPE CENTRAL (48) -- Alayah Cooper-Johnson 12, Bailey Kvatochvil 13, Tori Scheller 4, Katie Williams 4, Dominique Johnson 2, Chelsea Vinson 13. FG 19 FT 8-23 F 13 (3-pointers: Kvatochvil 2. Fouled out: none.)