Sikeston uses big fourth quarter to defeat West Plains

WEST PLAINS, Mo. – The Sikeston Bulldogs have gone through some growing pains this season, but they have proven all year that they can be one of the more explosive teams in the area when they are firing on all cylinders.

That happened again on Thursday night as the Bulldogs found themselves trailing in the fourth quarter at West Plains, only to erupt for 29 points in the final period to win the game going away, defeating the Zizzers, 77-62.

Sikeston (15-9) was behind 51-48, but the Bulldogs went on an 11-0 to open the fourth quarter and never looked back.

A slam dunk by Cleo Taylor extended Sikeston’s lead to 65-53 only to see West Plains’ Chaney Martin drill a 3-pointer to trim the lead to 65-56 with 3:41 left.

That was as close as West Plains (12-13) would get.

Sikeston went on to lead by as much as 74-57 on another Taylor jam, which matched the Bulldogs’ biggest lead of the night with two minutes left.

“I thought our guys did a good job of being patient offensively,” Sikeston coach Gregg Holifield said. “We took great shots, and we were solid defensively. West Plains has a great program and a great coach. To come over on the road and play as well as we did, especially in the second half – I’m pleased with it.”

Sikeston got another great boost from the 6-foot-5 sophomore Taylor, who led the team with 18 points, on 9-of-9 shooting, and grabbed seven rebounds with two blocked shots. He scored 14 of his points in the decisive fourth quarter.

“I thought Cleo came in and just gave us a great lift off the bench and was very active,” Holifield said. “He protected the rim defensively and had some tough baskets on the offensive end.”

Junior swingman Lontas McClinton had a strong night, finishing with 11 points, nine rebounds, and six assists.

“Lontas played very well,” Holifield said. “He had a great work ethic about him. He rebounded well, knocked down some tough shots, and took good shots.”

West Plains started the game on fire, hitting five 3-pointers and bolting out to a 23-9 lead before Sikeston settled in and finished the first quarter on a 9-0 run to shave the Zizzer lead to 23-18 by the end of the period.

“They just came out and did a great job of moving the basketball, and they knocked shots down,” Holifield said of West Plains.

The Bulldogs controlled the second quarter, out-scoring the Zizzers 18-8 to take a 36-31 lead into halftime.

West Plains seized the momentum in the third quarter and reclaimed the lead, taking a 51-48 edge heading into the fourth quarter.

However, Sikeston’s depth began to wear the home team down.

“I think we ran out of a little steam,” West Plains coach Shane Benson said. “They were playing more boys than we were and their size and their bodies when you’re battling that constantly, you’re going to get a little more tired than usual. They got out in the open floor and got some easy buckets, and then we had to start chasing, and when you have to start chasing, it’s hard. Almost all of our games have been like that. We go into the fourth quarter leading, and they got on a run, and we couldn’t get it stopped.”

Sikeston welcomed back Leroy Atkins, who has been battling a nagging hip flexor injury. The junior guard finished with 15 points and three steals.

Bulldog senior guard Payton Howard finished with 12 points and eight assists. Senior post Nick Harrison had 13 points and seven rebounds. Senior post Clark Steward had eight points with 12 assists, six rebounds, two steals, and three blocked shots.

Sikeston did receive some bad news when learning the extent of senior guard Colby Henson’s injury that he suffered last Friday against Jackson. An MRI showed that Henson has a tear in the muscle below the knee. A strained ACL as well as a small tear in his meniscus. None of the injuries will require surgery; however, his season is over as the healing process can be anywhere from four-to-six weeks.

West Plains drained 11 3-pointers in the game led by Martin’s five long-balls. He led the team with 17 points.

The game marked Sikeston’s first-ever trip to West Plains. The Bulldogs played the Zizzers for the first time last season at the Sikeston Field House. In that game, the Bulldogs prevailed in a hard-fought 64-55 win against the No. 6 Class 4 state-ranked Zizzers.

“We want to play Sikeston because that’s where we want our program to go,” Benson said. “That’s kind of what we’ve modeled our program after. I respect Gregg and his staff and what they do there. They have the kind of program that we would like to get to. We’re working to try to get there, and the only way to get there is to play those kinds of people.”

Sikeston will next play in the Class 4, District 1 Tournament at Notre Dame High School on Saturday. The Bulldogs, who garnered the third seed, will play sixth-seeded Perryville at 3 p.m.

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SIKESTON (77) – Cleo Taylor 18, Leroy Atkins 15, Nick Harrison 13, Payton Howard 12, Lontas McClinton 11, Clark Steward 8. FG 33, FT 6-15, F 19. (3-pointers: Atkins 3, McClinton 1, Howard 1. Fouled out: none).

WEST PLAINS (62) – Chaney Martin 17, Taylor Harrison 13, Eli McGinley 11, Allen Marcak 11, Daegen Green 6, Jacob Ackerson 3, Tommy Keller 1. FG 21, FT 9-18, F 17. (3-pointers: Martin 5, Green 2, Harrison 2, Marcak 2. Fouled out: none).

Junior varsity

The Sikeston JV team finished its season on a hot streak, winning seven straight to wrap up with a 15-4 record.

Thursday’s game was, perhaps, the most exciting as the Bulldogs defeated the West Plains junior varsity 56-53 in double overtime.

The Owens twins, Tyron and Tyler Owens provided the winning points in the second overtime.

Tyron Owens converted a conventional 3-point play to give Sikeston a 54-53 lead. After a defensive stop, the Zizzers fouled Tyler Owens, who sank both free throws to extend the lead to 56-53. The Bulldogs were able to force a tough final shot that was off the mark from to clinch the win.

Cleo Taylor led Sikeston with 16 points, 10 rebounds, five steals, and two blocks in three-quarters of action.

Adrian Smith finished with 14 points, including four 3-pointers. Carson Beaird had four points, seven rebounds, four assists, and two blocked shots.

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SIKESTON (56) – Cleo Taylor 16, Adrian Smith 14, Tyron Owens 7, Creighton Sarakas 2, Johnny Adams 4, Tyler Owens 7, Dylon Turner 3, Jaden Blackmon 2, Carson Beaird 4. FG 22, FT 7-11, F 18. (3-pointers: Turner 1, Smith 4. Fouled out: none).

WEST PLAINS (53) – Wood 8, McCollough 15, Tinsley 18, Dawson 6, Cox 3, Robbins 2, Harris 1. FG 22, FT 6-13, F 16. (3-pointers: Wood 1, McCollough 1, Cox 1. Fouled out: Tinsley).

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