(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- It took nearly three and a half quarters, but the Sikeston Lady Bulldogs woke up just in time to save their season on Tuesday night.
Trailing the entire game, third-seeded Sikeston put together a furious rally in the final four minutes to defeat sixth-seeded Fredericktown 47-46 in heart-pounding Class 4, District 1 action at the Sikeston Field House.
The Lady Bulldogs will play No. 2 seed Notre Dame in the semifinals on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
"We have seniors that didn't want to play their last game tonight," Sikeston coach Matt Schonhoff said. "They wanted to play on and wanted to play Thursday night and they left it all out there on our home court. That's what we kept preaching, that we had plenty of time. We had plenty of time to get back in this game. We just had some seniors that didn't quit and we had some underclassmen that didn't quit either."
Sikeston (16-9) trailed 43-32 with four minutes remaining but they went on a 13-0 run capped by a breakaway layup by Tyangela Gibson with 1:35 left to give her team its first lead of the game at 44-43.
Later, Gibson made a free throw to give the Lady Bulldogs a 45-43 lead with 44 seconds left in the game.
On the ensuing trip, Fredericktown junior Terra Helm drained a 3-pointer to reclaim the lead for the Lady Blackcats at 46-45 with 23 seconds left.
Without any timeouts, Sikeston needed someone to make a play.
Gibson stepped up again, driving baseline and scoring with 12 seconds left to give Sikeston a 47-46 lead.
"We didn't have any timeouts left and we went down and Ty got down to the corner and she attacked the hole and that's what she's good at," Schonhoff said. "She's a good finisher and she finished strong."
Fredericktown (6-20) worked the ball up the floor but in the ensuing chaos, appeared out of sync, forcing coach Scott Sikes to call a timeout with one second left.
However, following the timeout, Fredericktown could not get the ball in bounds and was whistled for a five-second violation.
Sikeston was able to inbound the ball and run out the clock to seal the victory.
"We wanted to take Helm out of the picture," Schonhoff said of his final defensive possession. "We just told Quesha (Howard) not to allow her to catch it. We did a really good job of denying and fortunately we got a five-second call out of it."
Sikeston, which had scored just 25 points through the first three quarters of the game, out-scored Fredericktown 22-11 in the final frame.
"In the fourth quarter we changed up our press," Schonhoff said. "We got more active with it, got some steals, got some layups, went to the free throw line and made some free throws. I think we really made them go faster than they wanted to there in the fourth quarter and they took some shots they probably didn't want to."
The press proved to be the difference in the game as Sikeston came up with 17 steals and wore down the younger, inexperienced Fredericktown team, who finished with 28 turnovers overall.
"I didn't think we played that bad offensively until we got in the fourth quarter," Sikes said. "We had an 11-point lead and we probably had a three or three and a half minute span where we didn't cross halfcourt or maybe a couple feet past halfcourt. We turned it over and the bottom line is you have to be able to handle pressure and we didn't do it. That sums up the whole game."
Even with his team holding the lead the entire night and Sikeston showing no signs of snapping out of its funk, Sikes said he never felt comfortable.
"When you're 6-20 you never feel good," Sikes said. "I was real afraid that pressure would catch up with us and it did. We've struggled taking care of the ball most of the year and that's what bit us tonight."
Sikeston's defense made up for what was a very poor shooting night as they were just 16-62 (26 percent) overall from the field and just 1-10 from 3-point range.
"When we weren't hitting our shots, we had to get on the defensive end and get some steals," Schonhoff said. "We were getting some steals but we weren't making our layups."
Fredericktown took full advantage of Sikeston's offensive woes, jumping out to an 11-1 lead to start the game.
They led 13-5 after one quarter and were ahead 25-16 by halftime.
Fredericktown took a 35-25 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Lady Bulldogs started the fourth quarter strong, with Quesha Howard knocking down a 3-pointer. Yalanda Johnson then scored a basket with the foul, but missed the free throw, only to see Howard score on the putback to quickly cut the Fredericktown lead to 38-32 with five minutes left.
Helm, who led all scorers with 24 points, then hit a 3-pointer and a pull-up jumper to push the lead back to 11 with a little over four minutes remaining.
Sikeston's comeback started on the following possession with Danika Garmon hitting a free throw, Howard following up with two free throws and then Taneshia Pulley scoring a conventional 3-point play to cut the lead to 43-40 with 2:40 left in the game.
Johnson then scored after another Sikeston steal to cut the lead to 43-42 with 2:18 left.
Fredericktown did not help themselves during the stretch, missing back to back front ends of a one-and-one free throw situation.
"We had a big 'and-one' by Yalanda there in the fourth quarter and we got some good stuff from Taneshia," Schonhoff said. "Quesha battled all night and was very good defensively. This is a good team win."
Howard led Sikeston with 16 points, including nine in the fourth quarter. She also had eight steals.
Pulley finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Gibson scored nine points and Johnson added eight rebounds.
Fredericktown's Helm scored all 11 of her team's points in the fourth.
"She's a great player," Sikes said of Helm. "She's led us in scoring all year long. She averages around a 16 point clip. She makes us go when she's hot. But one person can't carry you."
Schonhoff knew Fredericktown's record was deceiving and that his team would be in for a tough game.
"Fredericktown played extremely hard and they were well-prepared for us," he said. "They never gave up. Helm is a really good player and she gave us some problems. They were a true fight for us."
FREDERICKTOWN (46) -- Terra Helm 24, Jessica Wilkerson 8, Brooke Tonjum 6, Ellie Jensen 4, Nicole Burns 2, Bridget Allgier 2. FG 16, FT 2-6, F 22. (3-pointers: Helm 4. Fouled out: Burns).
SIKESTON (47) -- Quesha Howard 16, Taneshia Pulley 11, Tyangela Gibson 9, Aleah Little 6, Yalanda Johnson 4, Danika Garmon 1. FG 15, FT 14-28, F 12. (3-pointers: Howard 1. Fouled out: none).