ESSEX - A desperation shot from beyond half-court by Richland's Matt Ritch to end the game went off the backboard and in to earn a cheer from the Rebel fans, but it did little to soothe the pain of a 83-43 loss to the Dexter Bearcats at home Tuesday night.
Richland just couldn't match Dexter's talent level on the court and after a 16-8 first quarter, the Bearcats flexed their muscle in the second to blank the Rebels, 30-0 over the next eight minutes to settle the outcome of the game with a commanding 46-8 advantage at the half.
"We knew we would have to play a near perfect game to have a chance against them," Richland coach Doyle Denbow said after the one-sided affair. "We didn't go with our game plan. For some reason the kids just didn't have their heads in the game."
Dexter (18-3) is state-ranked at number five in Class 4 and overwhelmed the Rebels defensively. Dexter forced 14 turnovers (21 for the game) and held to the Rebels to 4-of-15 shooting from the floor in the first half.
While the Rebels (6-10) were struggling, Dexter was finding the range and hit on 13-of-19 shots in the second period to take charge of the game. Dexter finished the night hitting on 34-of-63 (54 percent) field goals, while Richland managed 19-of-53 (36 percent) from the floor.
"We knew it would have to be by a blessing from the good Lord to have a chance tonight," Denbow said. "But have a really good chance to win the next five ball games. We never did have a chance tonight."
Richland will finish the season with road games at Risco and Clarkton, a home game with Bernie, a road game at Woodland and the finale at home against Puxico.
Dexter was able to player everyone against the Rebels, and coach Eric Sitze used some different combination of players as the second half played out. The mercy clock in the fourth quarter made for a speedy game.
Chris Guethle paced the 'Cats with 16 points (four blocked shots), followed by Andrew Boone and Anthony Elfrink with 11. Junior Eric Rinehart rounded out the double digit scorers for Dexter with 10 markers. In all, 10 Dexter players scored.
Cameron Whitaker was the only Rebel to reach double figures with 11 points.
In junior varsity play, Dexter prevailed 62-41.
Drew Satterfield led the jayvee 'Cats, now 13-3, with 27 points. Satterfield scored 22 in the first half as Dexter built a 36-13 lead.
Matt Ritch hit three 3-pointers in the second period to keep the Rebels in the game, but they could never mount a run to cut into Dexter's lead.
Dexter (5-0 in SCAA play, 3-3 in SEMO conference play) will be entering what is arguably it toughest four-game stretch of the season to wrap up regular season play. The Bearcats will be on the road this Tuesday against an Advance team looking to avenge a loss in the championship game of the SCAA tournament.