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Dexter falls to Vashon

Sunday, March 14, 2004

(Photo)
Dexter's Josh Miller drives to the basket.
COLUMBIA - It was the Dexter Bearcats' first ever final four appearance, but they were greeted harshly in Columbia by the nationally ranked Vashon Wolverines, falling 79-30 in Friday's Class 4 semifinal game.

The undefeated Wolverines (30-0) came into the game as overwhelming favorites to win the state crown and they put on a show before the Hearnes Center crowd.

After the game, Vashon head coach Floyd Irons insisted that his team belongs in Class 5, where the school played for years before a drop in enrollment moved them down a classification.

"(We) did not try to run the score up," said Vashon coach Floyd Irons.

"We did not try to match the score that we had with DeSmet. Secondly, we did not ask to be in 4A. We begged the state to allow us to be in 5A. Because of state rules and regulations, we play where we're told to play."

And play they did, ending any hopes of a Dexter state championship early in the game with a 10-0 run to start the game which included two 3-pointers by Saint Louis University recruit Dwayne Polk and a monster slam dunk by 6-10 center Curtis Muse.

Dexter, who missed their first eight shots, finally scored with 4:04 to play in the first quarter when Josh Miller made 1-of-2 free throws, cutting the Vashon lead to 10-1.

"We were a little tight," said Dexter coach Eric Sitze of his team's slow start. "Some of those shots weren't bad shots. If we had hit some of those shots, maybe we would've had a little more confidence at the beginning. We felt like we could play with them there at the beginning. Maybe that would've gotten our confidence going a little bit and had a little better showing."

Dexter finally began making some shots but never could get any closer than nine points, trailing Vashon 19-7 after one quarter.

Vashon continued pouring on the points going on an 11-0 run to start the second quarter, and building the lead to 40-10 at halftime.

Dexter shot only 14 percent in the first half and were 0-11 from the 3-point line.

Sitze said Dexter knew what they were up against coming into the game and that could have played a role in the Bearcats' slow start.

"Knowing that you have to have almost a perfect game, that makes you a little tighter," Sitze said. "I didn't think we turned the ball over much. We knew coming in that we would have to rebound and they just killed us on the boards."

Vashon outrebounded the Bearcats 25-12 in the first half and were responsible for nearly half of Vashon's 40 points.

"They were just all over the place, Sitze said. "We haven't played anybody like that. I'd like to see them play Bluff from our area. I don't know. You can't even tell a difference when they bring kids off the bench. It doesn't even seem like they miss a beat."

The second half was more of the same for Vashon as they wowed the crowd with several highlight reel dunks.

"There were a couple times where they threw it up so high to one guy and he caught it in the air and he alley-ooped to another guy," Sitze said. "They're playing above the rim and we're playing on the ground."

The play of Vashon at times even left Dexter players shaking their heads.

"I've never played anybody like that," said Miller. "They're unbelievable. They're huge, they're strong, they're quick and they can shoot the ball."

Vashon's lead never slipped to under 28 points and the Wolverines cruised to the 49-point lead, just missing a 50 point margin when time ran out with Bobby Hill at the free throw line.

"(Dexter) should be proud of the fact that they made it here," Irons said. "They just ran into a ballclub that's a little bit more athletic, that's played a tremendous schedule. They were just a product of our schedule."

Irons said while rare, a win like this sometimes happens this far into the playoffs.

"I'm almost sure that some of the 5A schools were glad that we're not in 5A," Irons said. "When you get to the final four, you try to get the best parity possible. Sometimes things like this happen, but it's a rarity. It's supposed to be the pinnacle of high school basketball and it is."

"I watched this team dismantle a DeSmet team a few years back in the championship in 5A," Sitze said. "We're not the only team that these guys have done this to. We just need to keep our heads up. We're at the state tournament, we're having fun and we're not going to hang our heads."

Vashon was led in scoring by Muse who had 22 points on 10-of-10 shooting from the field. Polk and Johnny Hill each finished with 11 points.

"The sky's the limit for Curtis (Muse)," Irons said of his senior center. "Dwayne's helped Curtis more than I've helped him. He is more comfortable with Dwayne on the floor. When I'm hard on Curtis, Dwayne is the buffer."

Dexter was led in scoring by Derek Demaree's 10 points. "I just hope that Dexter's kids understand that they've had a tremendous season," Irons said. "They've played some good people and they've had some good times. Getting to this point is something that a lot of people dream about. When I was a high school player, I dreamed to get to the state tournament."

While upset with the margin of the loss, Sitze didn't think it would carry over into Saturday morning's third place contest.

"All year long our kids have been undersized." Sitze said. "There's a lot better athletes out there than us. We weren't even expecting to get here. We were just trying to get out of districts when the year started. No matter what happened out there I'm still extremely proud of my kids. We're going to keep our heads up and we're going to try to win our next ballgame."

Dexter played in the third place game Saturday morning at 10:50 a.m. A game story will appear in Monday's Standard Democrat.