BLOOMFIELD - The Stoddard County Activities Association (SCAA) Tournament will have a new varsity champion in 2005.
Advance finally beat back the demons that have haunted them the past few years when the Hornets (No. 3) defeated last year's tournament champion Bell City (No. 2), 75-55, while No. 1 Dexter fought back the challenge of upset minded Puxico (No. 4), 74-50.
Puxico elevated its game and came out against the top-seeded Bearcats with thoughts of an upset.
Coach Chad Allen's Indians stayed close to the 'Cats and took a short-lived lead (20-19) on a 3-pointers by Jesse Townsend midway through the second period.
Dexter senior Chris Guethle quickly responded with one of his six 3-pointers on the night (22-20) as the Bearcats managed to leave the court at half-time up, 31-26. Guethle would finish with a game-high 28 points and lead a third quarter charge that would but the 'Cats in control of the game.
Puxico came out inspired after half-time and picked up right where they had left off, knocking down the first six points to take the lead, 32-31.
Dexter coach Eric Sitze quickly called a time out at the 6:33 mark and he must have made his point clear as the 'Cats went on a 19-4 run to take command of the game, 50-36.
Guethle and senior Anthony Elfrink (12 points) did the bulk of the damage during the run. Dexter played nearly a flawless six-and-a-half minutes to finish the third, connecting on 5-of-6 from 3-point range and 9-of-13 overall.
Guethle had four treys in the run and Elfrink had six points as Dexter built a 56-40 advantage heading into the fourth quarter and coasted home with the win and a shot at the tournament title.
Advance came out like a team on a mission in the evening's last game.
The Hornets used three 3-pointers and a nine-point effort by Jeremy Limbaugh (20 points) to 20-6 lead in the first quarter only to see the Cubs finish the period on a 8-2 run and only trail 22-14.
Bell City appeared to have turned the momentum in its favor and took a brief lead (27-26) on a basket by Jeff Liggins (14 points). Back-to-back treys by Advance's Tyler Bowman (18 points) and Daryl Wade (9 points) late in the period helped the Hornets salvage a 35-30 advantage at the half.
Everything went Advance's way in the third as the Hornets outscored Bell City 24-10 to widen the lead. With Advancing leading 59-40 with eight minutes to play, Hornet fans could taste the win.