DEXTER -- Off the basketball court it is hard to dislike Dexter's Katelyn Heil, with her polite manner and engaging smile. On the basketball court, her opponents can give you a number of reasons to dislike the 5-10 junior.
Heil scorched opponents all season, averaging 18.4 points and 7.7 rebounds per game this year while helping lead the Lady Bearcats to a 22-5 record and their second district title in school history. She was also named co-player of the year in the SEMO Conference and is our Standard Democrat Player of the Year.
However when talking about her season, the ever-modest Heil was quick to point to her teammates.
"I was happy with how I played but most of all I was happy with how our team played," Heil said. "I couldn't have done half of what I did without the assists from Jill (Temples) and everybody else. We really came together as a team and worked so hard to get what we did this year."
What they did do was compile the second-best record in school history and were SEMO Conference Co-Champions for the first time in history. And Heil played a big part.
Her presence was never felt more than on Jan. 17 when the junior exploded for 42 points and 10 rebounds in an 81-66 win over state-ranked Portageville. The 42 points tied a school record for most points in a game, originally set by Heather Galloway in 1998.
"Katelyn just had a record-breaking season," said Dexter head coach Chad Allen. "She scored 42 points against Portageville and she was second all-time with the most points in a season."
But Heil did more than just score points for the Lady Bearcats this season. The junior was also one of the top passers for the Lady Bearcats, leading them in assists with 3.7 a game.
"That is something our whole team did this year was play unselfishly," Heil said. "Everybody found the best person, closest to the basket, with the best shot opportunity."
One of the more overlooked parts of Heil's game is her defense. While drawing attention on the offensive end of the floor, the junior normally drew the opposing team's best player on the defensive end and averaged three steals per game in the process.
Heil demonstrated her defensive ability early in the season against district foe Fredericktown. In the first half, Fredericktown's Courtney Kemp seemed unstoppable against Dexter, scoring 20 points. However all that changed in the second half.
"We put Katelyn on (Kemp) in the second half and Courtney only scored eight points while Katelyn scored 25 in the second half, 27 in the game," Allen said. "Katelyn not only scored a lot of points for us this year, but she was called upon a lot to stop the other team's best player."
With a team filled with underclassmen, playing for a new coach, Heil also had to step into a leadership role for Dexter.
"She is a very good leader, not only on the court but off the court as well," Allen said. "She was the player we looked to go to when the game was on the line."
Heil said since she and her fellow juniors, Ashlee Taylor, Jill Temples and Cathryn Heil, her identical twin, had been playing on varsity since they were sophomores, becoming a leader wasn't that difficult.
"We definitely stepped up this year and it was just easier for us since we had (started last season)," Heil said. "I didn't think it was that hard of a role to step into. The girls made it easy and it was fun."
And fun is what Heil had as the junior was often seen diving on the floor for loose balls or jostling for position under the basket with the opposing team.
"I love physical games," Heil said. "That's my favorite part. I love being able to bump the other girls and not have to worry about the fouls being called. I love when everybody on the floor can go after balls and none of the touch fouls are called."
That love of physical games was born close to home as practice with Cathryn can sometimes get intense.
"We can't guard each other in practice," Heil laughed. "They won't let us because we get too physical with each other. We're more competitive but she really helps me on the things I need to fix so it is definitely good to have someone there with you."
Fortunately for Dexter fans Heil will have plenty with her next year as a majority of the team returns with one goal.
"We want to get to the final four and succeed there," Heil said. And if she has her way, there will be many more reasons for Heil's opponents to dislike her next season.