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Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016

Bell City, Dexter to play for title

Friday, January 31, 2003

Preston Clark (11) goes after a loose ball with Bloomfield's Cecil Haley.
BLOOMFIELD - One of the most anticipated games of the year will become reality tonight at the 78th Annual Stoddard County Conference Tournament.

Top-seeded Dexter and No. 2 Bell City both advanced to the championship game of the tournament with lopsided victories, setting up the high-profile title game between the two.

Dexter (13-3) used a big second half to defeat Bloomfield for the third time this year, winning 86-59. Bell City had no problem with Advance in the other semifinal game, disposing of the third-seeded Hornets 86-56.

The Bearcats had previously defeated the Wildcats (10-8) twice by scores of 101-53 and 100-60.

But Bloomfield was determined to pull an upset the third time.

For a short while, it looked possible, as the Wildcats trailed just 42-40 early in the third quarter.

"This is the third time we've played Bloomfield and we've beaten them by a pretty good margin both times," said Dexter head coach Eric Sitze. "If you kick a dog three or four times, it's going to get mad and do something about it. Bloomfield wasn't going to go down easy tonight. I thought they played hard."

But not even a fired up Bloomfield team could stop Dexter from turning the game into a blowout.

Nursing a shaky two-point lead, the Bearcats ended the third quarter on a 23-6 run to make it 65-46.

It got so bad for Bloomfield that they even had trouble inbounding the ball.

"The two things that we can't do against a team like this is turn the ball over and give them more than one opportunity," said Bloomfield head coach Travis Brown. "And during that run that's exactly what happened. They just really kicked our tail on the boards right there. In an effort to try to get back in the ballgame, we'd make more mistakes. It just compounded from there."

Dexter turned the tide of the game so fast that not even Sitze could explain it.

"I don't know what happened there," said Sitze. "I don't know if it was a no-call down there or what. Something charged our kids up and we played a little bit harder and did a better job on defense. I thought the kids hung in there tonight and they didn't get rattled."

Dexter led by as much as 83-52 in the fourth quarter before emptying the bench to close out the game.

The Bearcats got a balanced scoring attack led by point guard Chris Hyten's 21 points.

Willie Dooley and Derek Demaree followed up with 16 points each and Preston Clark added 12 points.

Dexter came out hot, taking a 19-11 lead after one quarter. The Bearcats led by as much as 12 in the second quarter before Bloomfield took control. The Wildcats went on an 11-0 run capped by Tim Perry's 3-pointer to cut Dexter's lead to 27-26.

The Wildcats would cut the lead to one again in the quarter but couldn't get any closer.

The Bearcats ended up leading 37-32 at the half.

"We made the decision to go to the zone and maybe that affected them a little bit, I don't think they shot it as well as they sometimes do," said Brown. "I give our kids a lot of credit, they fought hard and they wanted to win. We're an improving team, but it's disappointing. It's just another loss."

Bloomfield was led in scoring by Perry's 17 points. Colby Sandage, a 6-5 senior, chipped in 12 points.

The win marked Dexter's 36th in a row at Bloomfield High School. The Bearcats will be going for their fifth straight conference tournament championship tonight at 8:30.

Bernie holds the record for consecutive championships with five from 1989 to 1994.

The Bearcats have won 14 SCAA Tournament championships since 1963.

"This county's made up of smaller schools and us, so we're expected to get in the finals, and sometimes that puts a little pressure on us," said Sitze. "These county teams are getting better and they're being coached harder. There's no way we're going to come out and blow Bell City out of the water by any means. It's going to be a tight game and they're going to play hard. They're real hungry right now so I hope we can match their intensity tomorrow night."

Bloomfield will play Advance in the third place game at 5:30 today.

The Cubs reached the championship game for the second year in a row with a dominating 86-56 win against Advance.

Bell City (16-2) hit a whopping 15 3-pointers in the game, including five each by all-stater Eric Henry and senior Kenyon Wright.

The Cubs jumped out quickly in the game as Wright buried a 3-pointer right off the opening tip.

There was much more of that to come as Bell City hit five more from beyond the arc in the first period.

Henry scored 12 points in the quarter to lead the Cubs to a 27-13 lead.

It got worse for Advance (11-5) in the second quarter as Bell City opened up a 50-27 lead at the half.

Henry scored 18 of his game-high 31 points in the first half. The Cubs hit 11 3-pointers in the first half, including four by Wright.

Bell City extended the lead to 71-44 heading into the fourth quarter.

Johnson followed up with 20 points while Wright added 17 points.

Advance was led by Jared Ritter's 16 points and Jason Bahr's 15 points.

The Cubs will be shooting for their first SCAA Tournament championship since 1981 when they won the last of three straight.

Dexter's jayvee team will be going for their seventh straight junior varsity championship in the SCAA Tournament tonight at 7:00.

The JV Bearcats advanced to the title game with a 75-23 win against Woodland. Chris Guethle led the way with 22 points for Dexter.

Their opponent will be Advance, who were 74-45 winners over Bell City. Advance was led by Tyler Bowman's 21 points. Bell City got 19 points from Blaine Stewart.

The JV Hornets will be searching for their first championship since 1973.