SHS season ends

Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Sikeston's Paige Silverthorn (10) and Amber Minner react after losing.

SIKESTON -- The top seeds held up in the first round of the Class 4, District 1 girls tournament at the Sikeston Field House on Tuesday.

Fourth-seeded Notre Dame held on to defeat No. 5 Sikeston, 57-53, and third-seeded Perryville advanced with a 45-33 victory over No. 6 Ste. Genevieve.

Notre Dame (14-11) will play top-seeded Fredericktown (21-4) on Thursday at 6 p.m. while Perryville (17-7) will take on second-seeded Dexter (18-5) at 7:30 immediately afterwards.

Trailing 55-53, Sikeston had a chance to tie or win the game in the waning moments, but they turned the ball over when Allison Blurton stepped out of bounds when she drove the baseline with 7.3 seconds left in the game.

"We ran the double-screen and we set it but it wasn't used right," said Sikeston coach Fred Johnson. "Instead of going up for the 3, she penetrated. They're kids and they make their own decision when they get the ball. The only thing we try to do is put them in a position to win. We were in a position but we lost it. We can't blame anybody for it. We just lost it."

Sikeston's Whitney McCray prepares to block out on a free throw.

Notre Dame coach Jerry Grim said he didn't even want Blurton to get the ball in the final seconds.

"We were trying to deny her the ball and if she caught it we wanted to keep her outside," said Grim. "When she goes baseline she goes out of control sometimes and that's what she did."

Merideth Medlin made two free throws with five seconds left to ice the victory for Notre Dame.

There were eight ties and 16 lead changes in the game. Neither team held a lead larger than six points.

Sikeston held its last lead with about five minutes remaining when sophomore forward Martika Davis scored inside to take a 47-46 advantage.

Sikeston's Amber Minner drives.

Notre Dame took the lead for good on a Medlin 3-pointer.

Sikeston held its biggest lead early in the first quarter when Blurton hit a 15-

foot shot for an 8-4 advantage. Two other times Sikeston had the lead at four in the first quarter, but Notre Dame went on an 8-0 run to take at 15-11 lead before Sikeston's Keyarra Blissett hit a shot to cut the lead to 15-13 by quarter's end.

Notre Dame continued to lead through most of the second quarter until Jessica McCray hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left in the half to give Sikeston a 28-27 halftime lead.

Sikeston maintained the lead early in the third quarter, but Notre Dame drained a pair of 3-pointers in the period to help give them a 41-39 advantage heading into the fourth.

The two teams exchanged leads through the first three minutes of the fourth. Sikeston cut the lead to 55-53 on a Davis basket with 31 seconds left and on the ensuing trip up the floor, Whitney McCray forced a jump ball with 19 seconds left to set up Sikeston's final chance.

Notre Dame helped seal things by hitting all eight of its free throws in the fourth.

Kristain Burger led Notre Dame with 22 points. Medlin followed up with 19 points.

Davis led Sikeston with 19 points, with 10 coming in the fourth quarter, while Whitney McCray scored 17 points. Blurton, Sikeston's leading scorer, was held to 10 points.

"I thought Brooke Beussink did a great job on No. 20 (Blurton), which is their go-to girl," said Grim. "She had to work for everything she got and we can't ask for more than that."

Sikeston turned the ball over 20 times in the game, including 13 in the first half. The Lady Bulldogs also had to play without junior forward Latoya Gipson, who didn't play for personal reasons.

"I had a player that was averaging 17 points a game out of the lineup and then you've got to get somebody else step in and feel the shoes," said Johnson. "I can't offer any excuse about that. We knew what we had to do but we had a bad start."

Sikeston will lose three seniors to graduation in Blurton, Whitney McCray and Paige Silverthorn. Johnson hopes the returning players can build on the breakout season they had this year.

"I think they all contributed in their own special way," said Johnson. "I don't put too much emphasis on one particular player, I put it on all of them. They all did well. I didn't expect for us to go out and win 18. I really didn't know what to expect, I figured maybe a little less than .500, but we'll take 18 and move on."

Sikeston ends its season at 18-7, which is believed to be the best record in school history for the girls team.

"As far as I know it's a school record," said Johnson. "In the 16 years I've been here I've never known for us to have 18 wins. I'm not 100 percent certain, but as far as I know it's the most wins we've ever had.

It's a builder for the kids. If we had won the district then we would've had a whole lot more kids out next year. Success breeds success and we had a successful year. I was lucky enough to step into a program that's already started and to be able to get some girls that wanted to play. We had a few that should've played that didn't, but I don't beg people to play. I ask them once and if they say no then they can go about their business. But we did good with what we had."

The Perryville Lady Pirates out-scored Ste. Genevieve 27-17 in the second half to break open a close game.

Perryville's Amber Hacker hit 11-of-13 free throws, including a perfect 8-8 in the fourth quarter, to lead all scorers with 21 points.

Ste. Genevieve led 10-9 after the first quarter but Hacker hit a pair of 3-

pointers in the second quarter to give the Lady Pirates an 18-16 halftime lead.

Perryville deployed a full-court press in the second half which caused numerous Lady Dragon turnovers, setting the tone for the rest of the game.

Lindsay Rhodes led Ste. Genevieve with 17 points.

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