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Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014

Dexter hopes to keep streak alive

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

(Photo)
Dexter's Chris Hyten puts up a shot in this Dec. 6 photo.
BLOOMFIELD - The 46th Annual Bloomfield Christmas Tournament will tip off on Thursday at Bloomfield High School with eight first round games.

Dexter has won the tournament four years in a row, setting a new record in the process, but that didn't keep the coaches from voting the Bearcats as the No. 2 seed.

The Bearcats will play No. 15 East Prairie at 11:15 a.m.

Dexter, which enters the tournament with its worst record in several years at 2-3, still may be the favorite despite receiving the second seed.

The Bearcats have won 30 games in a row at Bloomfield's gymnasium dating back to 1998, and they already defeated the top-seeded Twin Rivers Royals on the road 50-49 on Dec. 17.

"I think most people kind of knew that we could be one and two and it might not matter," said Twin Rivers head coach Scott Kruse. "We'll take that top seed, I think it gives the team a little bit of an advantage, but at the same time it puts a bullseye on your back."

Twin Rivers enters the tournament with a 6-1 record. They won the Oran Invitational Tournament earlier this month and they posted an impressive 55-31 win against Portageville on a neutral floor.

The Royals will open the tournament with a 10 a.m. game against No. 16 Richland.

"Everybody talks about Portageville being down, but at one point this season they're going to put it together, they're going to look strong and they're going to be tough to score on," said Kruse. "I don't think many people like going up against a team coached by Coach (Jim) Bidewell."

Portageville is 3-2 this season with its other loss coming to Kennett in the season-opener. But the Bulldogs are still trying to overcome the graduation of its top five players.

"I think overall the talent might be a little down in the whole tournament from year's past," said Bidewell. "Twin Rivers and Dexter, when you get past those two, there's probably not much difference in the third-seeded team and the 12th seeded team. But that makes for a good tournament, they usually are."

Portageville plays No. 13 Puxico at 1:45 p.m.

Kennett is also 3-2 on the season, but the team has struggled since winning its first two games. The Indians went 0-2 in the Sikeston Invitational and they were dealt a 54-36 loss to Jackson last week.

"For us I think that's a pretty high seed for right now," said Kennett head coach Tim Turlington, whose team will play No. 14 Greenville at 12:30 p.m. "We're such a young team but we're getting better. I just hope we can get it going in the tournament."

A couple teams that coaches are leery of are fifth-seeded East Carter County and No. 6 Doniphan.

The Redbirds, under new head coach Larry Morgan, are off to a 3-0 start as they return nearly ever player from last season.

Doniphan has only played two games due to snow-outs. Both games were losses in the Sikeston Invitational to Charleston and Cape Central.

But most of the coaches are calling the Dons a tournament darkhorse.

"Doniphan and East Carter, they're both in our conference -- I think they both have real nice teams," said Kruse. "Our kids definitely have respect for both those schools because we see them so much."

East Carter County will play No. 12 Van Buren at 3:30 p.m. while Doniphan plays No. 11 Bernie at 5 p.m.

"I thought Doniphan was seeded a little bit lower than probably what they should be," said Dexter head coach Eric Sitze. "They're a better team than a six seed."

Said first-year Doniphan head coach Shawn Gibbs, "I don't know if we're underseeded, I mean we haven't won a game yet. We did have a couple of tough games to start off with. But everybody feels like it's wide open. It's always going to be tough to beat Dexter because they're always a good team and just the location being so close to Dexter makes it like a home court for them."

Other first round matchups will have No. 7 Bloomfield playing No. 10 South Pemiscot at 6:30 p.m. and eighth-seeded Hayti playing No. 9 Malden in the final game of the day at 8 p.m.