SCC-Sikeston game comes back to life

Wednesday, January 21, 2009
FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com
Scott County Central sophomore Otto Porter helped the Braves to the Southeast Missourian Christmas tournatitle. Scott County is 13-1 and ranked No. 2 in Class 1.

Game on?

One week after Scott County Central and Sikeston were unable to hammer out an agreement to play this season, the two schools seem to be on the brink of putting the proposed contest together.

Meetings today could finalize an agreement that was reached Tuesday between the two schools.

Oran superintendent Mitch Wood had been involved in trying to arrange the game by rearranging the existing schedule of games Feb. 10, when Scott County Central hosts Saxony Lutheran and Sikeston hosts Oran.

He had hosted a meeting in Oran last week to try to get the schools to agree to a Feb. 11 doubleheader at the Show Me Center, which would allow Sikeston and Scott County Central to meet for the first time since 1971. But the meeting ended without an agreement for this season.

Sikeston Standard Democrat
Three-time all-state senior Michael Porter has led Sikeston to a 13-2 record this season. Porter is the cousin of Scott County Central sophmore Otto Porter.

"I'd about given up," Wood said Tuesday.

However, when the parties were together in Dexter on Tuesday for a Missouri State High School Activities Association meeting to discuss items on the spring ballot, discussions after the meeting led to an agreement.

Saxony Lutheran AD Sam Sides, who attended the MSHSAA meeting, said he was called later in the day and asked if his school still would agree to the rearrangement.

"As long as we didn't lose a game [on the schedule] out of it, we were willing to cooperate," Sides said. "I'm not sure what changed.

"Our kids will get to play at the Show Me Center for the first time, that's the big thing for us."

Sides said there was importance to the Sikeston-Scott County showdown.

"We don't want to stand in the way," he said.

Saxony Lutheran, 15-1, is ranked among the state's top 10 teams in Class 2. It had lost to Scott County Central the last two seasons and already has beaten Oran by more than 20 points this season.

But the rearrangement would allow Saxony to play its first game at the 7,000-seat facility on the Southeast Missouri State campus.

It also brings together Scott County Central, 13-1 and ranked No. 2 in the Class 1 state poll, and Sikeston, 13-2 and ranked No. 8 in the Class 4 state poll.

The two schools, located less than 10 miles apart, last played Jan. 5, 1971, when Scott County Central won 68-67 in overtime.

Incidents after that game made the schools cautious about playing each other, and Sikeston superintendent Steve Borgsmiller said in a story published in December in the Sikeston Standard Democrat that he had been told when he came to the district in 1975 to never schedule Scott County Central.

Scott County Central superintendent Joel B. Holland said in the same story that the players are friends with each other, and he thinks the rivalry would be healthy.

In fact, the two teams' post players are more than friends, they're cousins. Sikeston senior Michael Porter is a three-time all-state player, and Scott County Central sophomore Otto Porter is making an impression as one of the area's top players.

The Sikeston-Scott County Central contest has picked up so much intrigue this season because it would pit the two teams that have risen to the top of regional polls. Neither has lost to a Southeast Missouri team this season.

Sikeston lost its opener to Wildwood (Mo.) Lafayette, and it lost to Warren Central of Kentucky in the Poplar Bluff Showdown in late December. The Bulldogs won the SEMO Conference tournament.

They finished the 2007-08 season ranked fourth in the state after losing to eventual state champion Notre Dame in the district final.

Scott County Central also lost to the eventual state champion last season, falling 70-68 in the Class 1 semifinal to Jefferson. The Braves finished second in the state poll.

They currently are ranked No. 2 behind Jefferson.

but have rolled to the Oran Invitational and Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament titles. Scott County Central has won 12 straight games since losing to Memphis Central in the New Madrid County Central Riverbend Classic, including a trouncing of defending Class 2 state champion Harrisburg at the Mizzou Arena.

Sikeston and Scott County Central both won district championships in that 1971 season, and they have added to their programs' traditions since.

Sikeston reached the final four in 1995 (finishing fourth in Class 4A, the state's largest class at that time) and again in Michael Porter's freshman year, 2006 (finishing second in Class 4 to Borgia).

Scott County Central won a record 12 state championships under current coach Ronnie Cookson from 1976 to 1993. Cookson had taken a break from coaching, but returned to the bench in 2006-07 and led the Braves to their 14th final four appearance last year, which was their first since 1994.

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