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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Dexter's Blunt headed to SEMO

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Dexter all-state basketball player Rachel Blunt
DEXTER - By signing a National Letter of Intent for the 2005-2006 season on Thursday, Dexter High School's Rachel Blunt became the first player to sign with Southeast Missouri State University during the NCAA's Early Signing Period.

"She thought about it long and hard over the summer and this early fall season," said Dexter girls basketball coach Gavin Miller.

"She had several schools look at her and of course everyone likes her work ethic and everyone likes her size and ability to handle the ball. I think SEMO from a long time ago showed some interest. It's close to home and it's a program on the rise. I think those are all the things that interest her. She wanted to stay close to home where her family could see and that's very important to her. It came down to SEMO and Central Missouri."

The 6-foot Blunt plays forward for the Lady Bearcats and she also projects at that position for the Otahkians.

"I'm thinking right now she will be a four or possibly a three," said Miller. "I don't think she'll be a true post, but they want her to be able to play in the paint and also step out and hit some mid-range jumpshots. I don't think they'll expect her to hit the three. What they really saw in Rachel is she has gotten better ever year and she gets better every day. And she won't leave until it's perfected."

Blunt said, "I feel comfortable with those positions, especially the four. I know that's where I'll play there as a freshman and hopefully as I get better I'll be able to play the three."

Blunt said SEMO's proximity to Dexter was a major factor in her decision.

"I felt real comfortable with the coaching staff and I think their program is going up," said Blunt.

"It's a great opportunity for me and it's close to home so my parents can come see me play. That was kind of the deciding factor."

Blunt also wanted to get the recruiting process out of the way so there wouldn't be any distractions during her final season in a Lady Bearcat uniform.

"This year I wanted it to be about my team and how we do," she said.

"I don't want to have something in the back of my mind and not be able to give everything I've got."

Blunt was a first team all-state selection last season as a junior, being one of just two juniors named to the 12-girls squad.

Blunt averaged 19 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and show 82 percent from the free throw line for her 19-8 team last year.

He also set the single season school scoring record with 508 points.

She is only 206 points away from setting the school's career scoring mark.

Blunt is a three-year starter for the Lady Bearcats, where she has helped lead the team to a 56-17 record during that time.

But there is still something missing for Blunt and her teammates.

"Winning a district championship is our goal," said Blunt. "That's what everybody's looking for at the end of the year.

Hopefully we'll overcome the whole "district-phobia" I guess that we have. This is the best team I've been on the court with in my four years here. So I'm excited. We want to play consistently. We're still young, we've only got two seniors on the team. If we can find some consistency, play really good defense and cause turnovers then we're going to win a lot of ballgames."

The Lady Bearcats have never won a district title in the school's history, but have played for the championship the last two years, including last year's heartbreaking 50-49 loss to Notre Dame.

In that game, Dexter trailed 24-5 after one quarter only to rally the rest of the way and have a chance to win at the buzzer.

Blunt spear-headed the rally, scoring several key baskets down the stretch to lead her team with 17 points.

After the game, Notre Dame coach Jerry Grim said, "(Blunt) is a player -- she is a legitimate player," said Grim. "We honestly could not stop her."

Miller said Blunt's talent hasn't come naturally, but rather through shear hard work over the years.

"She's going to be without a doubt the hardest worker on the court against anybody I play on the regular season schedule," said Miller.

"She's at school at 7:15 every day. If practice starts at 5:00, she's there at 4:00 shooting. She's a head-smart player and she makes everybody else better. Her post play is very good but I think also for her size, she can push the ball up the court and handle it well."

Blunt, although a natural forward, will still need to add some speed for the college level according to Miller.

"She's going to have to get a lot quicker," said Miller. "She's worked real hard in the weight room. She's gained some strength with weight. She's broader and she's stronger in the upper arms. But she's going to have to get quicker and have a quicker first step. She's got kind of an awkward, up and down running motion up and down the court, but she works on it every day."

Southeast Missouri State went 15-12 last season under coach B.J. Smith, who is entering his third year with the program.

"I'm extremely happy that she decided to stay in the area and play for us," said Smith. "A number of schools recruited her, but she liked the direction that we are going with our program."