'Jays too much for Sikeston
CHARLESTON - Friday night's game had all the makings for another classic.
Charleston's gymnasium was so packed that fans had to be turned away at the gate. The atmosphere was electric with blue-clad Charleston fans and red-clad Sikeston fans.
There were slam dunks, blocked shots and bodies flying everywhere.
But unfortunately for Sikeston, most of it was done by Charleston.
The Bluejays defeated the Bulldogs 61-43 for their seventh straight victory against Sikeston.
It is the most lopsided win by either team against the other since the 1997-98 season.
And there wasn't much Sikeston could do about it. Not on this night.
"At every position I thought they were outstanding tonight, from the one guard to the five man," said Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield. "When they play the way they played tonight they are a very difficult team to beat. I don't know if there's many teams in Southeast Missouri that could've beaten them tonight."
True, the Bluejays were running on all cylinders.
But it wasn't that way the whole game.
Playing with what Holifield described as "great intensity," the Bulldogs raced out to a 6-0 lead highlighted by Lontas McClinton's steal and slam dunk, forcing Charleston head coach Danny Farmer to burn a timeout just two minutes into the game.
"I was a little frightened -- we were overly excited and they were pumped too," said Farmer. "Both teams were just so hyped up."
But the Bulldogs couldn't sustain the emotion. Sikeston (4-7, 0-2 SEMO Conference) still was in good shape as they led 11-6 with 2:40 left in the quarter.
But the Bluejays tied it at 13-13 heading into second period.
The second quarter proved to be disastrous for Sikeston.
The Bulldogs led 15-13 to start the quarter but that was the last lead they would have.
The Bluejays (12-3, 2-0 SEMO) went on a 9-2 run capped by Joshua Strayhorn's 3-pointer with 4:25 left in the half to lead 22-17.
Shortly after, McClinton and Michael Colon picked up their third fouls, sending both to the bench.
"They did a really good job on (McClinton)," said Holifield. "He got into some foul trouble early in the second quarter and we had to sit him down. He was in foul trouble from that point on."
Charleston took advantage of their absence by ending the half on an 11-1 run to lead 33-18.
"I was disappointed in how we played in the second quarter," said Holifield. "We were very careless, we stopped moving offensively and we were standing defensively. We can't play that way."
The Bulldogs weren't able to make a dent in the second half as Charleston maintained at least an 11-point lead the rest of the way.
They led 49-29 entering the fourth quarter. Substitutes played most of the fourth quarter for both teams.
"I was really happy with the way we played defensively," said Farmer. "But I wasn't surprised because our last two games we've played great defense. We played better tonight offensively."
Leading the way for the Bluejays was 6-6 sophomore Ashton Farmer with 18 points. Kewain Gant, a 6-foot-8 senior, was also dominant on both ends, scoring 14 points, blocking several shots and altering many others.
"We've been working on going to the boards on every shot and we felt we hadn't been doing that the last two games," said Farmer. "We felt if we could control the boards then we could control the game."
The Bluejays were also able to contain McClinton, who has had his way with Charleston in the past, including 24 points back in the Sikeston tourney.
With guards Deshaundray Hamilton and Marcus Biles, and Gant inside, the Bluejays surrounded McClinton, limiting him to 10 points, eight of which came in the first quarter.
He also had 10 rebounds and two steals.
"That's the best defense we ever played on Lontas," said Farmer. "I didn't think we could play that good a defense against Lontas. He may have had a bad night. Normally I play a zone because of him, because he's so potent. But we played well tonight."
Lavar Morgan led the Bulldogs with 13 points along with seven rebounds. Lawrence Davis added 11 points.
Hamilton had 10 points for the Bluejays.
"You just have to give Charleston credit, I thought they played extremely well tonight," said Holifield. "They have an outstanding team and they have a great chance of going to the Final Four in Columbia in 3A in my opinion."
The Sikeston junior varsity team won their fifth straight to improve to 8-3 on the season with a 51-48 win against Charleston.
The Bulldogs trailed 14-11 after one quarter and 24-22 at the half. But a big third quarter got things going as they took a 38-36 lead.
Felante Larry sank both ends of a one-and-one with 23 seconds remaining to provide the final margin. He had 10 points.
Apollo Patterson led Sikeston with 13 points. Josh Alvarado added 12 points with eight rebounds.
Charleston (3-6, 1-1 SEMO) was led by Jeremiah Jones with 19 points and Moses Gater with 11 points.