SIKESTON, Mo. -- The Notre Dame Regional High School and Sikeston boys basketball teams, fierce Class 4 District 1 rivals, have waged some classic matchups in recent years.
The latest battle of the Bulldogs followed that trend for a half.
Then Sikeston used one of its explosive runs to take control for a 64-57 victory Friday night.
"I'm walking away pleased with how we played," Notre Dame coach Kevin Roberts said.
An enthusiastic crowd at the Sikeston Field House that featured a large group of supporters from both schools saw Sikeston improve to 9-0 and Notre Dame drop to 2-3.
Sikeston has won 43 consecutive home games, last losing to a visiting squad in early December, 2007.
"It's tough to play here," Roberts said. "They're a really good team."
While Sikeston won more comfortably than the final score suggests -- building a 19-point lead late in the third quarter -- Roberts was encouraged largely because of the fight his inexperienced Bulldogs displayed.
"The 10 guys we played, nine have never played against Sikeston [in varsity competition]," said Roberts, whose only returning starter from last season is senior forward Jacob Tolbert. "We never gave up. A lot of teams, that 19-point lead would have ended up 30 with a running clock. We fought back."
Said Tolbert, a 6-foot-7 Division I prospect who led all scorers with 21 points: "It hurts to lose. We're definitely not happy about it. But I saw a lot of things I like in the game."
An experienced and deep Sikeston squad showed why it is among the state's premier Class 4 clubs.
The Bulldogs rely on their quickness and relentless pressure to wear down the opposition. It has worked in every game so far this season.
Sikeston, averaging 18 steals per contest, came up with 20 on Friday.
Twelve of Notre Dame's 28 turnovers came during the decisive third quarter that featured a 19-3 Sikeston run to turn a 27-24 halftime lead into a 46-27 advantage.
"The third quarter is where we kind of shot ourselves in the foot. We got too sped up, threw the ball away. That's where Sikeston had their run," Tolbert said. "They're a very good defensive team."
Sikeston used a 9-0 burst at the outset of the third quarter to build a 36-24 lead. After Notre Dame made it 36-27, a 10-0 Sikeston spurt broke the game open at 46-27.
Notre Dame scored the final seven points of the period to make it 46-34. The visitors kept battling but never got closer than 10 points until the final 30 seconds.
"I think we played well at times," Sikeston coach Gregg Holifield said. "We built a lead. ... We got lackadaisical. But you have to give Notre Dame credit. They played well down the stretch."
Two of Tolbert's 21 points came on arguably the highlight play of the night, a two-handed jam off a perfect alley-oop feed from senior guard Derek Landewee with 48 seconds left in the contest.
"I thought Jacob played a tremendous game," Roberts said.
Junior guard Nathan Meystedt added 16 points for Notre Dame.
"Nathan played really well. He can do so many things," Roberts said.
Sikeston received its usual balanced scoring. Senior guard Janeil Hatchett led the way with 14 points, while senior guard Darryl Howard and senior forward Corey Porter both added 13 points.
Porter also had 13 rebounds, four steals and three assists.
The first half featured five lead changes and four ties. Notre Dame's biggest lead was 4-0, while Sikeston's largest margin was 27-21.
Notre Dame didn't help itself by making just 5 of 11 free throws, including missing two front ends of one-and-ones.
"If we can put together four quarters like we did the fourth quarter, we'll be tough to beat," Roberts said.
The teams could have a rematch in the district tournament, which would be another in a string of recent district meetings between the squads.
"Basketball is a long season," Tolbert said. "We might meet them again."
NOTRE DAME (57) -- Derek Landewee 8, Nathan Meystedt 16, Joseph Siebert 3, Alex Beussink 3, Jacob Tolbert 21, Cody Heisserer 6. FG 23, FT 5-11, F 15. (3-pointers: Landewee 2 Siebert 1, Beussink 1, Tolbert 2. Fouled out: none)
SIKESTON (64) -- Kil'Ron Coleman 2, Eldridge Gibson 6, Janeil Hatchett 14, Darryl Howard 13, Vashawn Ruffin 3, Terry Jamison 4, Will Holifield 9, Corey Porter 13. FG 25, FT 13-21, F 18. (3-pointers: Ruffin 1. Fouled out: none)
JV -- Sikeston 61, Notre Dame 40.