DEXTER -- The Dexter Bearcats gave a strong first-half performance as they drubbed the Kennett Indians 95-77 for a Homecoming win Friday night.
It was the 16th consecutive victory for the Bearcats, who now stand at 18-3 on the season and are ranked No. 8 in Class 4. Despite that, coach Eric Sitze was not completely happy with his Bearcats after the game.
"As far as a team, I didn't think we handled ourselves very well tonight," said Sitze. "We blew a big lead that we had and let them get back in the game."
Dexter scored eight points directly off turnovers in the first period to take a 24-15 lead before putting the game out of reach in the second.
Senior Chris Hyten carried the offensive load for the first eight minutes, putting up 10 of his team-high 26 points in the quarter.
Preston Clark, who finished with 13 points (six in the first stanza) provided the defensive spark as he converted two steals into layups for the 'Cats.
Dexter continued its stellar play for most of the second period, taking a 47-22 lead on a Wethington bucket with 3:03 left in the frame.
In fact, the Bearcats opened the second quarter with a 15-2 spree that all but sealed the contest. However, the Indians would not go away, and a 3-pointer by Tyree Goolsby with 1:42 left in the second closed the gap to 47-29.
Drew Wethington then made four free throws to offset a pair of Kennett baskets to keep Dexter out in front, 51-33, going into the locker room. Wethington scored nine of his 18 points in the second period, and Derek Demaree added six of his 15 in the frame.
"Drew did a good job of scoring, but also rebounding on the defensive end," said Sitze. "He got some big defensive rebounds for us. He was cutting to the ball really well and just had a really good game."
The Bearcats posted a 10-0 run early in the third as Hyten was in on every point. A nice assist from Hyten to Demaree started the streak and gave the 'Cats a 57-38 lead with 6:35 left in the period.
Hyten's trifecta from the left corner kept the spurt going, and a conventional three-point play finished it off with 5:09 showing on the scoreboard.
"He scored them in bunches," Sitze said of Hyten. "That's how he goes, in spurts. If he can get them closer together and more frequent, that would be great."
Demaree added a bucket-and-free throw with 46 seconds left to set the score at 79-53 heading into the final eight minutes of regulation. While the outcome was never really in doubt, Kennett made a late run at Dexter.
Goolsby, who led all scorers with 30 points, tallied 13 in the fourth as the Indians were able to get within 12 points (86-74) with just under three minutes to play.
"I think we learned more from that last quarter than we did from the win," Sitze said. "I don't think we handled ourselves very well. If things are not going our way or something bad happens to us, we need to handle it better than we did tonight. I think that's the biggest thing we can take from tonight."
Dexter then went into its stall offense and connected on seven free throws in the last 1:36 of play. Josh Miller hit five of the shots from the charity stripe as he finished with 11 points.
"Josh and Derek (Demaree) are a couple of juniors that we'll have back next year and they've gotten a lot of good minute for us," Sitze said. "That's good for us to get that type of production out of them."
WOODLAND - The Woodland Cardinals celebrated Homecoming Friday night with their first win since Christmas, a 77-67 defeat of the Zalma Bulldogs.
Because of several cancellations due to inclement weather, it was only the sixth game in 2003 for the Cardinals.
"It's really good to get a win because we've played Dexter, Bell City twice, Bloomfield, Jackson...," said Woodland coach Ted Hahn. "We've lost all five games since Christmas, but we'd only played five before tonight. It's hard to keep sharp when you don't play for a long time."
Alex VanGennip and Travis Benfield were sharp enough as Woodland took a 63-43 lead into the fourth period and held off a furious Bulldog comeback.
Woodland sank 11 free throws in 15 attempts on the night to pick up the win.
"We've been working on them," Hahn said of his team's shooting from the charity stripe. "We lost a couple of games recently because of our free throw shooting."
Hahn added that it was a special Homecoming as he was able to get every player time on the court.
"We got to play everybody and get a couple of wins," Hahn said. "And with it being Homecoming, that's really nice."
VanGennip led the Cards with 23 points, while Benfield tossed in another 18 points in the win. Cody McCraw (12 points) and Chris Huffman (11) also reached double figures for Woodland, now 8-11 on the season.
Nick Hartman paced Zalma with 17 points, and Chad Wiseman added 15 and Brad McKlin scored 14 in the losing effort. The junior varsity Cardinals improved to 11-8 on the year with a 53-49 victory over Zalma.
Anthony Grojean led Woodland to victory with 22 points and Zach Winchester added 13 for the home team. Grant Lehmann and Brandon Masters scored nine points each in the win.
Adam Pixley scored 17 and Andy Sitze tallied 14 for Zalma, while David Hovis recorded 10 points for the 'Dogs.
After not playing many games over the last couple of months, the Cardinals have a hectic week ahead of them.
On Monday, Woodland hosts Meadow Heights before traveling to Puxico to take on the Indians Tuesday night. The week wraps up with a tough road contest at Oran Friday night.
All three games are slated to begin at 6 p.m. with junior varsity action to be followed by the varsity games.
BERNIE - The Bernie Mules were outscored 15-9 in the first eight minutes of play as they fell 51-48 to the Malden Greenwave Friday night.
Zach Dill scored 16 points to lead the Mules and Brandon Shipman added eight, but the Greenwave were able to limit Chad Wooldridge to only six points in the win.
"Malden just wanted this one more than we did," said Bernie coach Morris Karnes. "I thought we had prepared and were ready to step up and play, and we just did not do it."
The Mules trailed 25-21 at the half, but Malden added a point to its lead (33-28) going into the final frame.
"All teams want to win, but some teams do the things they have to do to win," Karnes said. "And we did not, and Malden did."
Dill scored 11 of his points in the fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers, but it would not be enough to complete the comeback.
With the loss, Bernie falls to 9-11 on the season. In the junior varsity game, the Greenwave earned another hard-fought victory with a 31-27 decision. Britt Arnold and Jesse McGowan scored 10 points each for the Mules.