CAPE GIRARDEAU - The Class 4, District 1 boys basketball tournament will open on Tuesday at Notre Dame High School in Cape Girardeau.
The third-seeded Sikeston Bulldogs will play No. 6 Perryville on Tuesday at 7:45 p.m. Prior to Sikeston's game, fourth-seeded Ste. Genevieve and No. 5 Fredericktown will square off to open the district at 6 p.m.
Top-seeded Dexter and No. 2 Notre Dame both received first round byes.
Semifinal games will be played on Thursday starting at 6 p.m. If Sikeston wins, they will play Notre Dame on Thursday at 7:45 p.m.
The championship game is set for 7:45 on Friday night.
"I believe whoever comes out of our district has a good chance to compete in the next two games and make it to Columbia," said Notre Dame head coach Darrin Scott. "The brackets are set up that any team that wins the district following this is comparable to us."
Here is a team-by-team breakdown of each squad in the district starting with the top seed.
District championships: (8) 1957, 1958, 1961, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1970, 1976
Head coach: Eric Sitze (2nd year)
Leading scorer: Chris Hyten (17 ppg)
* The Bearcats enter the tournament with the best record, having won 20 games for the fifth straight season.
The Bearcats won 16 games in a row before losing last weekend to Caruthersville.
But Dexter rebounded to win its final three games impressively.
"We've been playing better competition recently," said Dexter head coach Eric Sitze. "Caruthersville beat us, I thought we were a little flat that game. They're definitely an athletic basketball team. It's good for us to play this better competition right before districts."
Dexter's other three losses came before Christmas break when they fell to Charleston and Sikeston to open the season, and then losing to Poplar Bluff Dec. 20.
Dexter won the Stoddard County Conference, the conference tournament and the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament for the fifth straight year.
The team's most impressive non-conference wins were against Notre Dame, Twin Rivers, Jackson and Portageville.
Dexter has been led this year by point guard Chris Hyten, who averages 17 points with six assists and three steals per game.
Junior Derek Demaree, a 6-5 post, has improved steadily to average 16 points and seven rebounds per game.
Seniors Willie Dooley and Preston Clark both average 11 points per game.
"Any team that gets out of our district I think can make a good run in the playoffs," said Sitze. "We want it to be us, but whatever team wins, we hope the best for them. Definitely Sikeston and Notre Dame are capable of beating us on a given night. It's going to be a competitive district."
The Bearcats will be trying to win their first district championship since 1976.
District championships: (10) 1960, 1967, 1977, 1979, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1995, 2001
Head coach: Darrin Scott (3rd year)
Leading scorer: Travis Siebert (13.5 ppg)
* Notre Dame probably has the richest tradition of any team in the district. The Bulldogs have five Final Four appearances with back-to-back state championships in 1986 and 1987.
Notre Dame has played consistently well all season, defeating Sikeston on the road while taking second in both the seMissourian Christmas Tournament and the Farmington Invitational.
The Bulldogs lost on Tuesday to Poplar Bluff before winning Friday against Perryville.
"We've been playing pretty well and doing some good things," said third-year Notre Dame head coach Darrin Scott. "The thing about districts is you have to play well each night, come out ready to play, or you're done for the year. During the regular season we beat Sikeston, Sikeston beat Dexter, then Dexter beat us. That kind of typifies how wide open the district is."
The Bulldogs have a balanced attack led by four seniors. Travis Siebert, a first team all-SEMO conference performer last year, leads the team with a 13.5 points per game average.
Wayne Essner is also a top shooter, scoring 13 points per game.
Cory Beussink, a 6-4 post, scores 11 points and grabs 10 rebounds per game while the athletic Tyler Cuba is the team's top defender in the backcourt.
Even though Sikeston has to get by Perryville, Scott is anticipating a rematch with the Bulldogs.
"If we do draw Sikeston in that first round, we're going to have to rebound and guard them," he said. "If we can do that and not turn the ball over, I think we have a good chance to win each night."
District championships: (16) 1936, 1938, 1951, 1953, 1956, 1962, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1984, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1999, 2000
Head coach: Gregg Holifield (5th year)
Leading scorer: Lontas McClinton (20 ppg)
* The Bulldogs enter the tournament as one of the darkhorses. Besieged by a vicious schedule, Sikeston rallied in February to reach .500, winning seven of its last nine games.
Sikeston was playing its best in early December when they defeated Dexter, DeSoto and New Madrid County Central in succession. The team then lost to Poplar Bluff (52-48) which started a four-game losing streak.
Since then, the Bulldogs have played well despite losing several games. Sikeston is 9-6 since Christmas break but the losses have come against some top-ranked teams.
"We've really played pretty well since the Charleston game," said Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield. "Five of our six losses are to outstanding teams. All five have the potential to be state champions. I think we've prepared ourselves to possibly do something. Our players are working hard and they're focused."
The Bulldogs have been led by returning all-state forward Lontas McClinton who averages 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Senior guard Lavar Morgan chips in with 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists per game.
"I think no doubt about it we're playing our best basketball right now," said Holifield. "I think our schedule has really prepared us. We've seen many different teams and different styles. I can tell the past three weeks since the Superman Classic that our kids have responded well."
Sikeston is 7-2 since the Superman Classic.
Holifield led the Bulldogs to back-to-back district championships in 1999 and 2000, but the team has been knocked off the last two seasons.
Even though he wants another crack at Notre Dame, Holifield knows his team will first have to deal with Perryville, a team that took Sikeston to overtime last year.
"Our first concern is Perryville," said Holifield. "I don't know a whole lot about them, we just have to prepare for them first. If we have an opportunity to play Notre Dame, they'll be well-prepared. They've played good people and it's going to be competitive and a tough game, especially on their home floor."
District championships: none
Head coach: Russ Toombs (5th year)
Leading scorer: Matt Bader (17.5 ppg)
* The Dragons have put together one of the best season's in school history this year.
For just the second time, Ste. Genevieve won its conference in the regular season.
Now Ste. Genevieve and head coach Russ Toombs will try to win the school's first district championship.
Despite the successful season, Ste. Genevieve could only garner a No. 4 seed due to its lighter schedule.
So did the Dragons get snubbed in the seed meeting?
"I've heard a lot of people say that, but I hate to say it," said Toombs. "People look at Sikeston's record and think we should've been ahead of them. Sikeston's record doesn't look that good, but they play one of the toughest schedules in the state by far. I'm happy with where we're sitting. We're going to have to play well wherever we got seeded."
The Dragons are led by a pair of football standouts. Six-foot-four senior Matt Bader leads the team with 17.5 points per game. He also averages 7.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game.
Seth Fallert, a 6-3 senior, averages 14.5 points and 6.5 rebounds.
"I think we can come up and possibly bite some people," said Toombs. "But it's going to take some real good games for us to do that. We have a pretty good record but we've played quite a few teams with sub-500 records. It's a different brand of basketball in Southeast Missouri. There are a lot of athletes, they get up and down the floor. We're excited to play teams like that."
District championships: (11) 1966, 1967, 1971, 1973, 1979, 1981, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989
Head coach: Brett Reutzel (2nd year)
Leading scorer: D.J. Hinkle (15 ppg)
* After enduring a nightmarish two-win campaign last season with a youthful lineup, the Blackcats have taken strides this season, posting a 10-13 record under second-year head coach Brett Reutzel.
And with that improvement, Reutzel feels his team's best basketball is still to come.
"I'm getting tired of saying this, but we're still pretty young," said Reutzel. "I've got one senior on the squad and he's a role player. We've been just good enough to get beat. We can play with a lot of people, but we've just had a little trouble climbing over that hump against the best teams. We get beat by six, seven or eight and we're always in the game. We just need to find a way to raise that bar one more level so that we can get somebody that we're not supposed to. We're pretty confident that we can upset Ste. Gen Tuesday night."
The Blackcats are led by sophomore D.J. Hinkle, who averages 15 points and seven rebounds per game.
On a team loaded with guard play, the 6-foot-2 Hinkle is the team's lone inside presence
"We're not real big and we make up for it with a lack of quickness," joked Reutzel. "But seriously, we shoot the ball pretty well and we handle the ball pretty well. But we're not real big and not real physical."
Micah Reutzel, the coach's son, averages 11 points and seven assists per game. Kyle Tesreau, a 6-foot junior, averages 10 points per game.
"It wouldn't surprise me to see us or Ste. Gen upset somebody," said Reutzel. "The way it looks to me, I would certainly think any of those top three seeds could win it. They're all favored to win it and all three are quality teams. I think it'll be a lot of fun."
District championships: (3) 1963, 1966, 1997
Head coach: Paul Taylor (1st year)
Leading scorer: Tim Winningham (15 ppg)
* The Pirates have struggled through the season, posting just five wins.
In the off-season, Perryville had to replace head coach Jeff Steffens and they have still yet to find a replacement for 6-foot-6 post player Chad Ozark, who graduated last year.
Perryville has been led by the senior trio of Tim Winningham, Aaron Weibrecht and Jacob Bachman.
The 5-10 Winningham averages a team-leading 10.7 points per game.
Weibrecht, at 6-2, leads the team with eight rebounds per game while scoring 10 points per game.
The 6-foot Bachman averages eight points and 6.8 rebounds.
Perryville took Sikeston to overtime in the first round of the district tournament last season before falling 57-48. The Pirates are led by first-year head coach Paul Taylor.