Sikeston coach Gregg Holifield was hoping to close out the schedule on a positive note with the Class 4, District 1 Tournament looming this week.
The team responded by completely taking Bernie out of the game early and leaving no doubts.
"I was proud of how we came out and played," Holifield said. "Bernie has a great program and they're well-coached. They've had a lot of success. I was really proud of our players with how they came out with energy and effort."
Bernie held a couple very early leads and still only trailed 12-8 with a couple minutes left in the first quarter, but Sikeston closed out the quarter on a 7-0 run capped by a Kyland Gross jumper at the buzzer to lead 19-8.
"Early on we wanted to stand out and lessen the possessions," Bernie coach Brad Botsch said. "That was our best chance to compete, was to take possessions out of the game. And we did that a little bit early on. We wanted them to come out and overplay a little bit so we could get penetration and some kicks and things like that. But once you get behind it's more difficult to maintain your poise and composure. Especially with the way they keep coming at you defensively, it makes it difficult on the kids to maintain the gameplan in that sense."
Sikeston continued the onslaught in the second quarter, going on a 9-0 run to open up a 28-8 lead.
Bernie (15-9) could not get any offense going against the swarming Bulldog pressure.
"They do such a good job of playing hard and they rebound well," Botsch said. "My goodness, even if you have an open look it's difficult to knock it down because they're right up in your face. They just really bring it at you and it's tough to compete with a team as good and talented as they are."
The Bulldogs played a nearly flawless second quarter as they went into halftime with a 37-12 lead after a Caleb McGee offensive putback at the buzzer.
Sikeston out-scored the Mules 23-9 in the third quarter to take a 60-21 lead into the fourth where the mercy clock ran the rest of the way.
Sikeston's Vashawn Ruffin led a balanced scoring attack with 16 points, seven assists and three steals.
Senior Terry Jamison had 11 points and four assists. Senior Kil'Ron Coleman and sophomore J.T. Jones each had 10 points. Jones had a team-high seven rebounds.
McGee had a solid all-around game, with four rebounds, five assists and six steals.
The Bulldogs hit 7-of-19 (37 percent) from 3-point range and were 32-62 (52 percent) overall.
"I thought we shot the ball well," Holifield said. "We had rhythm shots. We're really playing well offensively as a team. That's the key, getting the ball on time and we're doing a much better job of that as of late."
Sikeston had an impressive assist-turnover ratio of 21-6.
"Sikeston's an elite team and we're kind of battling some adversity all year long," Botsch said. "We just haven't had a consistent group of players and also haven't had real consistent, solid basketball play. It's definitely going to be tough to compete with a team as good as Sikeston is."
Bernie was led in scoring by David Baker's 19 points.
With the win, Sikeston notched its 20th victory of the season, the 14th time in school history they have accomplished the feat and the sixth time in the past seven years.
Holifield, now in his 14th season as Bulldog head coach, credits the players he's had when talking of the achievement.
"It's great for our team," said Holifield, whose team is now 20-4. "You never take 20 wins in a season for granted. It's always difficult to do. I'm so proud of our kids for sticking together and working hard. I can't say enough about the winning way our kids have."
Friday's game marked Sikeston's first trip to Bernie since 1991. That year, first-year coach Fred Johnson led his Bulldogs to a 101-94 win over the Paul Hale-led Mules.
The second-seeded Bulldogs will play the winner of the Ste. Genevieve-Perryville game on Wednesday at 7:30 in the district tournament at the Field House.
Bernie will play at Holcomb on Tuesday in a regular season matchup.
In a highly anticipated junior varsity matchup that had garnered so much interest that it was broadcast on the radio, the Bulldogs knocked Bernie from the ranks of the unbeaten with a thrilling 56-53 victory.
The Bulldogs trailed by as much as 13 in the first half, but managed to cut the score to 32-27 by halftime on freshman Zach Jackson's tip-in at the buzzer.
The Bulldogs took a 41-40 lead into the fourth quarter where they had to rally from behind again, trailing by as much as 53-48 with less than two minutes remaining.
Sikeston's Chris Scott, who hit four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter alone, knocked down two straight to give the Bulldogs the lead for good.
Jeterrence Harris blocked Troy Kirkpatrick's final 3-point attempt at the buzzer to preserve the victory.
Sikeston's J.V. finished the year at 17-2 and a 10-game winning streak.
Scott led the way with 18 points with 4-8 3-point shooting.
Reese Porter had eight points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Jackson and Peyton Boyd each finished with eight points.
Freshman Corbyn Blissett dished out seven assists and came up with a crucial steal in the waning moments and was able to connect on 2-4 free throws on one-and-one attempts to reach the final margin.
Bernie falls to 20-1 on the season. Kirkpatrick led all scorers with 23 points. Caleb Ellenburg added 11.
SIKESTON (76) -- Vashawn Ruffin 16, Terry Jamison 11, J.T. Jones 10, Kil'Ron Coleman 10, Markeith Bratcher 9, Kyland Gross 6, Jairius Ray 5, Keldon Warfield 4, Caleb McGee 2, Corbyn Blissett 2, Reese Porter 1. FG 25, FT 5-8, F 13. (3-pointers: Ruffin 2, Jamison 2, Bratcher 2, Ray 1. Fouled out: none).
BERNIE (31) -- David Baker 19, Sam Turner 5, Matt Vernon 3, Jacob Clayton 2, Caleb Ellenburg 2. FG 12, FT 1-5, F 7. (3-pointers: Turner 1, Vernon 1. Fouled out: none).
SIKESTON (56) -- Chris Scott 18, Zach Jackson 8, Peyton Boyd 8, Corbyn Blissett 5, Jairius Ray 3, Marquise Parks 2, Jeterrence Harris 2, Steven Baker 2. FG 16, FT 9-22, F 16. (3-pointers: Scott 4, Ray 1. Fouled out: none).
BERNIE (53) -- Troy Kirkpatrick 23, Caleb Ellenburg 11, Brad Freed 6, Matt Vernon 6, Joey Walker 4, B.J. Jennings 3. FG 11, FT 10-15, F 15. (3-pointers: Kirkpatrick 3, Vernon 2, Jennings 1, Freed 1. Fouled out: none).