Bell City prepares for sectional showdown with 26-1 Clarkton

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

After surviving a scare from Oran in the Class 1, District 2 finals, defending state champion Bell City will have to face the No. 3 team in the state today in Sikeston.

But despite being ranked lower in the state polls, the No. 5 Cubs (24-5) will likely enter today's sectional game as favorites over Tri-County Conference champion Clarkton (26-1), who is riding a 23-game winning streak into sectional play.

"I consider us underdogs," Clarkton coach Delane Beckwith said. "I know we're ranked third and them fifth, but to be honest, I think they're a better team right now even though I feel we're capable of playing with them."

"I don't think anyone really considers us the underdog," Cubs coach David Heeb said.

Both teams will come into the game sporting a pair of dynamic scorers. The Cubs have an all-state pair in junior Dominitrix Johnson and senior Eric Henry, while the Reindeers counter with senior David Mathies and senior Andre Marsh. Johnson and Henry combine for 49 points per game and Mathies and Marsh put up 38 between them.

"Any time you've got two high schoolers that have done what they've done in high school you have to feel like you have an advantage," Heeb said of his duo.

Besides trying to find a way to limit Johnson and Henry's penetration and scoring abilities, the game will likely come down to whether Clarkton can slow down the game.

"We probably don't want to run with them," Beckwith said. "But that's not to say we're not going to run in spurts."

For Bell City, after struggling to stop Oran's inside force of Nathan Seyer and Tyler Cookson, who combined for 44 points in Bell City's overtime win, the Cubs will have to find a way to stop the inside combination of Mathies and center Michael Ray. Mathies, 6-foot-4, averages over seven rebounds a game and Ray (6-5) is averaging over 10 boards since becoming academically eligible at semester.

Heeb said despite the Cubs lack of size, their quickness should allow them to do well on the boards.

"We've out-rebounded almost every team we've played this year," Heeb said. "We can win the boards."

And while some people may look at results from common opponent games such as Bell City's 124-38 win over Risco compared to Clarkton's 82-70 win over Risco and think Bell City will run over Clarkton, Heeb said those scores can be misleading.

"It's an easy thing to do to compare scores," Heeb said. "But they play a different kind of ball."

Delta vs. Naylor

On the girls side Delta (24-2), ranked second in Class 1, will face Naylor (8-15) following the Bell City/Clarkton game today in Sikeston. The Bobcats feature center Rebecca Below, who averages 24 points a game. Delta's 26-win season has come from a team that goes just six deep on the varsity squad.

Delta coach Randy White said his team's lack of numbers will not be a problem.

"We're in good enough shape, we just have to stay out of foul trouble," he said.

Helping the Bobcats cause is 5-foot-10 freshman Becky Rozmirsky, who has come on late for Delta.

"She has done a very nice job for us on the inside," White said.

While Naylor made it through their district without having to play a team, White said his will not take them lightly.

"At this point in the year you can't take anyone lightly," he said. "The thing I've impressed on our players is anyone can win from this point on."

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