JACKSON -- The Sikeston freshman basketball team rallied from six points down in the final 33 seconds to defeat Poplar Bluff, 58-56, on Saturday to win the Jackson Invitational Tournament.
"They refused to give up, even down six with 33 seconds left," Sikeston coach Chris Sarakas said. "They showed no panic. I am so proud of them. It took the entire team to get the job done and that's a testament to their work ethic and desire to win."
Sikeston trailed throughout much of the game. They were down 28-21 at the half, but Sikeston out-scored the Mules 21-12 in the third quarter and took a 42-40 lead into the fourth quarter.
"We didn't play a very good first half but I told them to just keep working and our shots would fall," Sarakas said.
Sikeston surged ahead to lead 49-40 midway through the fourth and appeared well on its way to winning comfortably, but the Mules steadily chipped away at the lead and eventually took six point lead with 33 seconds left in the game, seemingly having the game in the bag.
The Bulldogs forced turnovers on their press, getting two baskets from Earnest Fobbs and then, after the Mules made 1 of 2 free throws, were able to tie the score at 56-56 on a Dominique Dyes 3-pointer with 15 seconds left.
The Bulldogs forced another turnover and found Jaylen Mallory streaking down the floor on the fastbreak, but the Mules fouled him hard, resulting in an intentional foul being called, meaning two free throws and possession of the ball.
Mallory stayed down for a few moments after the foul, but shook it off and calmly sank both free throws to give his team a 58-56 lead with nine seconds left.
On the inbounds, Mallory was fouled again. This time he missed the one-and-one attempt, but Fobbs stole a Mules pass and Sikeston was able to run out the remaining time on the clock to secure the championship.
"I was proud of their effort," Sarakas said. "We took a lead and kind of rested on that. Poplar Bluff has a good team and made a run at the end. Our kids just kept their heads up and kept battling."
Dyes finished with a game-high 24 points, knocking down five 3-pointers. Fobbs finished with 14 points.
Sikeston improves to 11-0 and will go for an undefeated season tonight when they host Twin Rivers at the Sikeston Junior High at 6 p.m.
POPLAR BLUFF (56) -- Blakeney Kearby 21, Collin Steffens 12, Shamaudre Barber 7, Elijah Dawson 6, Tristen Francisco 5, Kirby Coleman 3, Denzel Britton 2. FG 16, FT 18-30, F 10. (3-pointers: Barber 1, Coleman 1. Fouled out: none).
SIKESTON (58) -- Dominique Dyes 24, Earnest Fobbs 14, Jaylen Mallory 6, Cedric McIntyre 6, Juwon Kimble 4, Deterio Newman 2, Victwon Riley 2. FG 19, FT 5-12, F 23. (3-pointers: Dyes 5. Fouled out: McIntyre).