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Thursday, Apr. 17, 2014

Portageville stuns Dexter, still perfect on home court

Friday, January 16, 2004

(Photo)
Portageville players celebrate following Thursday night's 58-54 win.
PORTAGEVILLE - Two games in a row the Portageville Bulldogs have been underdogs, but both times they have pulled out victories.

They knocked off Caruthersville on Tuesday, and on Thursday night, they defeated age-old nemesis Dexter 58-54 at Portageville High School.

Despite a poor night from the free throw line (8-of-16), the Bulldogs hit them when they counted, knocking down four straight in the final 30 seconds to seal the win

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The Bulldogs (10-3) are now 4-0 at home this season. It's the second time in as many tries Portageville has upset a favored Dexter team in their home gymnasium.

"We've played twice here and lost both times -- with pretty decent teams both times," said Dexter head coach Eric Sitze. "They play really good here, it's a tough place to play. They can exploit your weaknesses pretty fast."

For Portageville, it was the team's fifth straight victory and their most notable win of the season.

"It's a big confidence boost for us," said Portageville head coach Jim Bidewell. "The kids have really been working hard. It's probably the first game that we really hit the boards like we should have. Home-court advantage definitely played a part tonight too."

The loss for Dexter (9-4) snapped a six-game winning streak dating back to the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament.

"I know Dexter's kind of in a midseason slump and we just happened to get them at the right time," said Bidewell.

The slump Bidewell is referring to was the Bearcats' unimpressive three-point win against Bloomfield on Tuesday, a victory that left Dexter's coaches and players scratching their heads.

"This could be really good for us," said Sitze. "We got lucky the other night and we played the same kind of defense tonight. If we don't learn how to play defense and play tougher inside, it's going to be the same ending as it is every year."

Portageville had a good shooting night from the perimeter, knocking down eight 3-pointers.

Junior point guard Willie Hassell had a season-high four 3-pointers to lead the team with 18 points.

"We just packed it in and tried to take the penetration away from them," said Sitze. "We wanted them to beat us from the 3 tonight and they definitely did. They didn't miss too many."

Thursday's game was tight throughout as there were 18 lead changes. Neither team led by more than seven points.

Dexter led 12-9 in the first quarter but a free throw and back-to-back 3-pointers by Hassell and Jimmy Larry gave the Bulldogs a 16-12 lead at the end of one.

The two teams exchanged leads four times in the second quarter before back-to-back baskets by Dexter's Derek Demaree gave the Bearcats a 25-24 lead at the half.

Dexter was still clinging to a two-point lead with the third quarter winding down, but freshman guard Trey Mosby buried a 3-pointer from the left corner just before time expired to give the Bulldogs a 40-39 lead, and much needed momentum.

Mosby finished with six points, including the game-sealing two free throws with nine seconds left to reach the final margin of four points.

"Either he's so green he doesn't know how big a game it is, or he's just a pretty good ball player," said Bidewell. "I hope it's the latter."

Mosby's 3-pointer seemed to spark Portageville.

Larry followed up with a 3-pointer from the top of the key to open the fourth quarter.

Ramone Kershaw then converted a conventional 3-point play to give the Bulldogs their biggest lead at 46-39, capping a 9-0 run.

Dexter quickly responded with a 9-0 run themselves to take a 48-46 lead but it was short-lived.

Hassell had a 3-pointer and Antonio Scott had a drive layup with 1:50 left to give the Bulldogs a 54-52 lead.

Portageville missed three straight one-and-one free throw attempts, but got the offensive rebound on two of them.

Hassell then made both free throw attempts with 31 seconds to push the lead to four.

Dexter's Derek Roberts scored on the inside to cut the lead back to two points, but Mosby iced the game with his two free throws seconds later.

Larry had 12 points and four steals. Jordan Penn had 11 points with six rebounds and four assists.

Sitze indicated that Portageville's quickness might have rattled his team late in the game.

"We just didn't take care of the basketball at the end of the game," he said. "I mean some careless turnovers. I think they were playing a zone down there and we turned the ball over -- throw it straight out of bounds. We looked shell-shocked there at the end."

Josh Miller led Dexter with 19 points and seven assists. Demaree followed up with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Despite being much smaller, Portageville out-rebounded Dexter 27-23.

"Hopefully our quickness had something to do with that," said Bidewell.

Portageville will play at South Pemiscot tonight at 6 p.m. in a Bootheel Conference game.

Dexter will host Stoddard County rival Bernie for their homecoming at 6 p.m. tonight.