ADVANCE - The best Dexter High School could do was salvage a split with the Advance Hornets, winning the varsity game 61-45 after dropping the junior varsity contest 49-45 on the road Friday night.
Advance controlled the tempo of the game in the varsity matchup, holding the Bearcats' high-octane offense to 61 points, but it wasn't enough to alter the outcome of the game.
"We didn't shoot the ball very well tonight," Dexter coach Eric Sitze said after the game. "We missed some really good looks and we didn't get the tempo the way we wanted it. Advance kept is slow versus the press and held it up and took good shots on us.
"The kids did a good job," Sitze continued. "We stayed in there and got it inside which opened the game up a little bit and helped. Besides not shooting the ball very good tonight, I thought it was an alright game."
Dexter was able to consistently get the ball inside to Derek Demaree from the half-court offense and the 6-foot-5 junior scored 20 points to lead all players in the game.
Coach Jim Hall's Hornets battled the 'Cats on nearly even terms in the first quarter, trailing by just one (11-10) entering the second period of play. Dexter's defense throttled the Hornets in the second frame, limiting the home team to just four points. The defensive stops seemed to spark the offense and the Bearcats put up 21 points in the second to lead 32-14 at the intermission.
There wasn't much flow to the game in the third, but the Bearcats did manage to increase the lead to 47-24 entering the fourth quarter and coast home with the win.
In addition to Demaree's 20 points, Preston Clark chipped in with 11and Josh Miller netted 10. Dexter's defense held Advance's leading scorers, Jared Ritter and Jason Bahr, in check for most of the night. Ritter led the Hornets with 12 points with six of them coming on a pair of 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter.
Bahr had seven points in the first quarter and finished the game with 11.
The varsity improved to 16-3 on the season. Dexter will next be in action Tuesday night at Bell City where the Bearcats and Cubs will stage a rematch of the varsity SCAA championship game. Dexter won that meeting, 77-68.
BERNIE - More often than not, teams that are considered easy victories are slated to be the Homecoming patsy.
However, Friday night proved to be a little different in Bernie as the Mules upset the visiting Campbell Camels 73-71 to kick off the Homecoming festivities. Bernie improves to 9-10 with the victory while the Camels fall to 12-4 on the season.
"This was a really good win for us," said Bernie coach Morris Karnes. "We needed a win against a quality team and Campbell's a quality team. They were ranked (No. 8, Class 2) in the state ... and we haven't had a game all year where we've stepped up and upset somebody. I hope, confidence-wise, this gets us going."
Zach Dill and Chad Wooldridge scored 30 points each and combined to go 18-of-21 from the free throw line to lead Bernie to its biggest win so far this season.
"Both of those guys are capable of scoring, but the other guys have to handle the ball well enough to get it to them," Karnes said. "We had a hot stretch there in the third quarter when we handled the ball well and got it to Dill and Wooldridge. Both of those guys can score if they get a split-second to get set and shoot."
While it was a very impressive win for the Mules, the first quarter was everything but good for the home team. Campbell connected on six 3-pointers in the first six minutes of the game and led 25-10 at the end of the first period of play.
"We've had a lot of games where we've started out on hot early on, and I told coach (Brad) Botsch in the third quarter that our guys decided to turn it the other way," joked Karnes. "We let them get ahead first and started playing better later on."
Bernie reeled of the first six points of the second period to creep within 25-16, but the Camels were able to regroup and take a 39-27 advantage into the locker room.
After a Campbell bucket to start the third, the Mules caught fire. Wooldridge and Dill teamed up to score all 23 points in the frame, with Wooldridge posting 14 and Dill adding nine. While they scored all the points, every other Mule played an important role in the decisive quarter. Ashton Farmer dished out a pair of key assists to start a 15-2 run that put the Mules up on top (48-46) for the first time in the game with 1:10 to play in the third. Dill and Wooldridge both hit 3-pointers in the stretch and Wooldridge added a traditional three-point play to grab the first lead.
The lead did not last long as Jared Odom (22 points) drained a 3-pointer to give the Camels a 49-48 lead with 1:01 left in the stanza. Dill responded by weaving through traffic in the lane and sinking a shot with seven ticks left on the clock to reclaim the lead for Bernie at 50-49.
The Camels scored the first eight points of the fourth before Bernie put together a 14-0 spurt of its own to move out to a 64-57 lead with 2:20 left in regulation.
Once again, it was the play of Dill and Wooldridge that starred, but the role play of Brandon Shipman and Wesley Owens that contributed to the explosion.
With the Mules down 57-53, Shipman set a screen to open up Dill for a trifecta to get Bernie within one point. On the other end of the floor, Shipman saved a ball that was going out of bounds, leading to another scoring opportunity. On the ensuing possession, Owens pulled down an offensive rebound and fed the ball to Dill, whose fourth 3-pointer gave Bernie a 59-57 lead with just under four minutes to play.
"I thought Brandon Shipman and Ashton Rodgers played really well," Karnes said. "And Dustan Ferguson and Wesley Owens got some key rebounds and really got us going by doing the little things better than what they've probably done all year."
Bernie then hit seven-of-nine free throw attempts over the last 47 seconds to emerge with a victory.
"We made a bunch down the stretch," Karnes said of his team's performance from the charity stripe. "Us making our free throws is what won the game tonight."