PERRYVILLE - Taylor Nelson and Rachel Blunt combined for 38 points as Dexter's Lady Bearcats defeated the Cape Girardeau Notre Dame Lady Bulldogs, 50-40 in semifinal action at the Class 4, District 1 Tournament Thursday night at the Perry Park Center in Perryville.
With the win, the Lady 'Cats now join Dexter's boys team in tonight's championship games. Coach Gavin Miller's top-seeded Lady 'Cats will play at 6 p.m. against Perryville (No. 3), while the Dexter boys (No. 1), under the leadership of Eric Sitze, will take on Cape Notre Dame (No. 3) in the evening's second game.
The win eases the pain of last year's two-point loss to the Lady Bulldogs (10
-17) in the district championship game, and again has the Lady Bearcats (22
-4) in position to record the first ever district title for Dexter's girls basketball program.
Nelson, a junior, scored a game-high 21-points, and Blunt, a senior, netted 17 to pace the Lady 'Cats.
Nelson scored seven in the first period when Dexter was struggling to find its offense. She added eight in the third quarter as the Lady 'Cats began to take control of the game, and Blunt knocked down 10 in the fourth to help stave off any comeback hopes harbored by the defending district champs.
"It wasn't pretty, but a win is a win," Miller said after the game. "It thought my girls played good defense. They made some silly fouls that we've got to stop. We had a slow start again, but once we took the lead we never relinquished it, so I'm real proud of the girls.
"In a district tournament, when we've had those types of close games in the past, we've folded," Miller continued, noting this will be his team's third-
straight appearance in the district championship game. "This time we didn't fold. This group played well and kept fighting."
Notre Dame's girls are perennial district winners, and the loss snaps a string of eight consecutive titles for the Lady Bulldogs.
"They've won - whether they were Class 2 or Class 4 - I think they have won seven or eight championships in a row," Miller noted. "I'm glad we're the team that ended it and I hope we're the team that can take it and move on with it."
Notre Dame came ready to defend its title and led Dexter 10-9 after the first period.