After losing all-state point guard Chris Hyten to graduation, Dexter head coach Eric Sitze knew that opening the season without a proven point guard would be tough to overcome against the Bluejays on Tuesday.
And like he thought, Charleston exposed Dexter's weakness as they defeated the Bearcats 81-73 at Charleston High School.
The Bluejays forced several turnovers and was able to convert many of them into easy transition baskets.
"I knew this summer that we couldn't handle the ball very well," said Sitze. "We need to get better at that for sure. We don't pass the ball very well. Too many times they just took the ball away from us dribbling or on a rebound."
In addition to the Bluejays' trademark pressure defense, the team was able to use their supreme quickness and unselfish play to get another balanced scoring attack.
Four different players reached double figures led by 6-6 junior Ashton Farmer with 27 points. Point guard Marcus Biles followed up with 19 points.
"I tell you all the time, that's the way I like it," said Charleston head coach Danny Farmer. "Those are the kind of teams that can take you a long way, when you can get those kids in double figures every night. We definitely don't rely on one person. We like to have the overall team effort."
But for the second straight game, the Bluejays had trouble putting a team away from the free throw line.
Last week they were just 8-of-23 from the line in their season-opening win against Covington. The team was just 15-of-29 Tuesday against Dexter.
Biles struggled in particular, hitting 3-of-11.
It's something Farmer isn't pleased with, but he turned the statistic into a positive.
"We still won the game -- that's a good sign, if you can shoot free throws bad and win the game then you're doing pretty good," he said.
Dexter wouldn't go quietly.
The Bearcats trailed by as much as 12 points midway through the fourth quarter, but they got as close as 72-67 with 2:20 left in the game.
"We played a very game team," said Farmer. "I knew after watching the B game that Dexter would come out and play tough. They were going to leave their guts on the floor. When they play us, they play hard all the time. You have to give a lot of credit to Dexter."
Bearcat senior guard Josh Miller almost single-handedly carried the scoring load.
He finished with a game-high 31 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter when the team was attempting their comeback.
"I know it surprises a lot of people because they didn't see him play much last year, but that doesn't surprise me," said Sitze of Miller's scoring. "Josh is a good scorer and he always has been."
Derek Demaree, a 6-6 center, followed up Miller with 19 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
"Once the team figures out that we've got to get the ball to Derek a little bit more and get that inside-outside game and get a one-guard that can handle the ball and not turn it over, we'll get a little bit better," said Sitze.
Dexter came out of the gates playing like they were in mid-season form.
The Bearcats led by as much as 14-7 before the Bluejays were able to trim the gap to 14-13 by the end of the quarter.
Charleston established a lead in the second quarter, getting ahead by nine points before the Bearcats stormed back on a Demaree conventional 3-point play combined with an intentional foul.
Demaree then scored on the ensuing inbounds play to tie the score at 33-33 with 23 seconds left in the half.
But just as quick as Dexter tied it, Charleston's Joshua Strayhorn hit a 3-pointer and was fouled. He hit the free throw to give the Bluejays a 37-33 halftime lead.
"There at the end of the first half I thought was a big momentum swing when we got the foul on the 3-point shot and they went up four instead of going in tied," said Sitze.
Dexter got as close as one midway through the third quarter but they never could grab the lead.
Sitze thought if he threw the press on sooner then it might've made a difference.
"I wish we would've pressed and got after them more," he said. "We're a better team when we can do that. I didn't feel like we ever turned the intensity up there until the end. And it was too late -- we got down too far."
Charleston also got 11 points apiece out of Strayhorn and Trentez Lane.
Chris Guethle chipped in with nine points for Dexter.
Charleston will play New Madrid County Central on Monday in the Sikeston Invitational Tournament.
Dexter will host Sikeston in their home opener.
"Sikeston always plays us hard," said Sitze. "It's going to be a competitive game no matter what they say about them. We need to be ready for them because they've got a lot of quickness out there."
Charleston won the junior varsity game 53-50.