CAPE GIRARDEAU -- The Class 4, District 1 girls basketball tournament takes place this week at Notre Dame High School. Notre Dame won state in Class 2A last year, and is the heavy favorite to win the district this year, despite jumping up two classifications this season.
The Lady Bulldogs have met all but one district team already, beating all of them by convincing scores. Dexter, a team Notre Dame beat by 45 points, is seeded second in the district.
Here is a look at each team in the district, as seeded:
The Lady Bulldogs check into the district with a record of 17-7, riding a 12-game winning streak. After a slow start, Notre Dame found its stride around the middle of the season. Since the Christmas break, they've gone 15-1.
"Right now, we're playing pretty well," said Notre Dame head coach Jerry Grim. "It took (the girls) a little while to realize we don't have the girls from last year, and it's up to them now. We decided at Christmas we were going to start a new season."
Ashley Millham is Notre Dame's top player, averaging 21 points and five rebounds per game. Sommer McCauley is the second leading scorer with 10 points per game.
Ali Tyson is the team's top defender and pulls down five boards a game on average.
"This time of the year, you never know," said Grim. "A team can step up, you can have an off-night and you're done. I feel good going into the district, but we're not taking anybody for granted."
So can Notre Dame add another district title to the trophy case and get back to the Hearnes Center in Class 4?
"I think we're going to be competitive no matter who we go against," said Grim. "It takes a little talent and a lot of luck, and right now, we've got both of them going for us."
Notre Dame will play the winner of a Sikeston-Fredericktown game on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Dexter picked up the second seed and enters the district with a record of 19-5. The Lady Bearcats are having one of their best seasons in school history, and seem to have the best chance of pulling out an upset over Notre Dame.
Dexter has never won a district championship, and played in just one championship game back in 1987.
"This is the team I think that could break down that barrier for girls basketball here at Dexter," said head coach Gavin Miller. "We want to get to that championship, and we're going to do everything in our ability to do that."
The Lady Bearcats use a balanced attack. Post players Katie Dunlap and Rachel Blunt score the majority of the points, averaging 13 and 12 points respectively.
Point guard Hannah Burleson contributes 10 a game, but is still recovering from an ankle injury. Burleson and Blunt are the team's top defensive players.
Dexter will play the winner of a Perryville-Ste. Genevieve game on Wednesday at 7:45 p.m. Earlier in the year, the Lady Bearcats squeaked past Perryville by two points in overtime. "We're going to have to play a steady game, cut down on our turnovers and play good defense on April Lorenz," said Miller. "When we played them earlier in the year, she scored 33 of their 60 points."
The Lady Pirates are the No. 3 seed, checking into the district with a record of 14-8. Perryville has won 12 district championships over the years and hopes to add a 13th to the list this season.
The Lady Pirates are led by standout April Lorenz, a 6-foot junior that averages 24 points and 10 rebounds per game. The team's second leading scorer and top defender, Emily Amberger, is out with a third degree ankle sprain. She will be out until the semifinal round, if the Lady Pirates make it that far.
"With Emily out of the lineup, I just hope we are able to come out and compete," said Perryville head coach Vicki Lohmann. "She has started for me for the last two years, and her being out puts a hamper on our scheme of things. Hopefully someone will step up."
Perryville will take on Ste. Genevieve in the first round on Monday at 7:45 p.m. The winner of that game will play Dexter on Wednesday, a team Perryville took to overtime earlier in the year.
"We would like another chance at Dexter," said Lohmann.
Sikeston is the No. 4 seed in the district, coming off an up-and-down regular season. The Lady Bulldogs seemed to turn the corner a couple of weeks ago, but suffered a couple of disappointing losses to end the regular season.
"I've got to get my inside people fired up," said Sikeston head coach Lee Brooks. "We need them to go out and play reckless basketball. Right now, they're playing so tentative. We have to hate to lose more than they want to win. That's our motto, and we need to start using it."
Jennifer Medlin is Sikeston's top scorer, averaging 13 points per game. Center Joy Daniel is the team's second leading scorer at 10 a night.
Sikeston's top defensive player is Stephanie Clark.
The Lady Bulldogs will get a chance at revenge in the first round on Monday, playing Fredericktown at 6 p.m. Last season Fredericktown defeated Sikeston in the district championship game.
The winner of Monday's game will play Notre Dame on Wednesday.
"(Fredericktown) beat us last year, so we're looking forward to playing them," said Brooks. "If we win the first round, we're going to meet Notre Dame in the second round. We would have to play a flawless game. We're going to have to play a lot better brand of basketball than what we've been playing."
Fredericktown won the district last year, but has been seeded fifth with a 9-14 record. The Lady Blackcats have won 20 district championships in school history.
Jessica Johnson leads the charge, averaging 18 points per game. She is also the team's top defender. Lindsey Tripp and Kristen Moyers each score six points a night.
"I think we're very inexperienced," said Fredericktown head coach Lonnie Sheldon. "Everybody is going to give us all we can handle. We're just going to have to play it game to game."
Fredericktown will face Sikeston in the first round on Monday at 6 p.m.
Ste. Genevieve is the biggest longshot in the district, checking in with a record of 5-16. The Lady Dragons have struggled under first-year coach Jeremy O'Brien, who hopes to end the down year on a high note.
Senior guard Dani Giesler is the team's top player, averaging nine points per game. Senior Rachael Flieg contributes eight points a night.
Ste. Genevieve will take on Perryville in the first round on Monday at 7:45 p.m.