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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Big first half lifts Dexter to win

Sunday, December 7, 2003

Dexter's Chris Guethle (23) chases down a loose ball in front of Marcus McCaster.
DEXTER - Not much went right for the Sikeston Bulldogs in their season opener against Blytheville two weeks ago.

Just 10 days later, the Bulldogs looked light years ahead of what they were against Blytheville.

Although it didn't result in a win, as Sikeston lost at Dexter 72-63 on Friday night, the performance inspired some hope for the rest of the season.

After falling behind 45-31 at halftime, it appeared Sikeston was on the verge of being blown out again.

But instead, the Bulldogs turned up the defensive pressure and dominated the boards in the second half.

The Bulldogs never got closer than eight points, but they didn't let the Bearcats pull away.

"We've been really drilling a lot in practice and we were a little robotic at times in the first half," said Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield. "We had a hard time catching the basketball and shooting the basketball. But in the second half I thought our intensity picked up. I thought we played with much more confidence. We got in more of a flow offensively. I saw a great deal of improvement tonight over the Blytheville game."

It didn't look that way in the first half as the Bearcats opened up a 21-10 lead.

Bearcat senior guard Josh Miller, who pumped in 31 points against Charleston on Tuesday, appeared well on his way to surpass that with 20 points in the first half.

But the Bulldogs put the clamps on him in the second half, limiting him to seven points, six of which were on free throws late in the game when Sikeston was in foul mode.

"We really tried to keep Miller from catching the basketball," said Holifield. "He hurt us a great deal in the first half, but I thought we pressured him better and got out in the passing lanes."

In fact, Dexter only had four second half field goals and just one in the fourth quarter.

The Bulldogs, however, did put the Bearcats on the free throw line where they made 19-of-25 in the second half.

"It's a good thing we hit the free throws because we didn't get a lot of field goals in the second half," said Dexter head coach Eric Sitze.

Dexter (1-1) led by as much as 15 in the second half on a couple different occasions, but the Bulldogs continued to stay within striking distance.

Dexter led 54-40 entering the fourth quarter.

"We should've put them away a couple times," said Sitze. "We got up 15 and they just kept coming back and we couldn't put them away. I thought they played hard and I knew they would. It's always a competitive game with us and Sikeston. They're not going to quit. They're coached well."

Derek Demaree followed up Miller's performance with 14 points before fouling out. The 6-foot-6 center had 10 in the first half, but couldn't get much going in the second half.

"Derek had a lot of shots he missed tonight that he should've made," said Sitze. "He's just not finishing. He's getting hit a little bit, but he's going to hit in varsity games. He just needs to take time and finish those shots."

Sikeston, which didn't have a double figure scorer against Blytheville, got a big game out of junior Marcus McCaster, who scored a career-high 25 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter.

He also had six rebounds and three assists.

"(McCaster is) one of our better shooters and scorers so he's going to have to play a key role in that area," said Holifield. "I think we're going to shoot the basketball much better as the season goes on."

Sitze was so concerned with McCaster that he gave backup guard Derek Roberts more playing time than usual.

"Roberts played a lot more tonight because I liked his defense on the McCaster kid up top when they started giving him the ball and letting him penetrate," said Sitze. "I thought Derek did a good job on him. He's definitely our quickest player."

Junior forward Josh Alvarado followed up with 11 points with four rebounds and four steals.

Senior forward Freddie Wiggins grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds while scoring eight points.

"He became very physical in the second half and he really started getting on the boards," said Holifield of Wiggins. "He really played well in the second half. He has to play that way. As the season goes on you'll see improvement every day out of Freddie. He's such a hard worker and a good person. Good things are going to happen to him."

Johnny Bland chipped in with eight points and five rebounds.

The Bulldogs also got a boost out of freshman Joe Lincoln, who scored five points with two rebounds, two assists, two blocks and three steals.

He's the first freshman to play considerable minutes in a varsity game since Lontas McClinton in 2000.

Dexter will host Notre Dame on Tuesday.

Sikeston will play New Madrid County Central on Tuesday in the Sikeston Invitational Tournament at 7:30 p.m.

"The thing is, we need to practice about another week before we play again, but we've got some really difficult games coming up in the next four or five days," said Holifield. "But I did see improvement tonight."

Sikeston played DeSoto on Saturday. Results will be in Monday's paper.

The Sikeston JV team improved to 5-0 on the season with a 74-53 win against Dexter's jayvee.

Sikeston led 16-7 after one quarter and 33-29 at the half. The Bulldogs put the game out of reach in the third quarter as they built a 54-40 lead.

Kash Bratcher led the way with 17 points, six assists and four steals.

Rodriguez Moore added 16 points with six rebounds and four steals. Trey Spence had 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocked shots.

Freshman Julian Beard added 13 points with five rebounds and five assists.

Andrew Sales had three steals and three rebounds. Joel Nabors had six rebounds and three blocks.

Dexter was led by Eric Rinehart's 18 points.