PORTAGEVILLE - The Dexter Bearcats and Portageville Bulldogs met for the second time this season Thursday night. In the Bloomfield Christmas tournament Dexter won the championship by a single point.
In Thursday's contest Dexter (11-2) won but did so handily this time, 67-46 with a strong performance by Chris Guethle who had a game-high 22 points.
This season the Bulldogs (11-2) have been quite sluggish in the first quarter and have often found themselves having to battle back down the stretch. The opposite was the case Thursday as Dexter struggled in the early going.
The two teams traded buckets in the first quarter with neither leading by more than three and Dexter holding onto a 14-12 lead at the end of one.
The second quarter was more of the same. Portageville grabbed the early lead in the first half of the stanza, but Guethle canned the first of three treys at the 3:25 mark to give the Bearcats a 23-22 lead.
From there Portageville went on an 8-2 run capped by a Willie Hassell steal and bucket to give the Bulldogs a 32-25 halftime lead.
Hassell was Portageville's best with 18 points in the game and was the only Bulldog in double figures.
"Dexter's got our number. They once again put it on us in the fourth quarter. It was a good learning experience for us," commented Portageville coach Jim Bidewell. "We're human and very susceptible to getting beat. Dexter lost recently and they have come back. Hopefully we can respond like they have."
The Bearcats began to dominate in the third period. Eric Rinehart, who netted 13 points in the game, got nine of them in the quarter.
At the 2:58 mark, Guethle nailed a 3-pointer to give Dexter the lead for good at 39-36. After three Dexter led 47-42.
"We got out of our offense and started playing street ball. We found out they play street ball better than we do. Defensively we were trying to outscore them rather than keep them from scoring. You're not going to beat a team like Dexter by trying to outscore them," said Bidewell.
"It was a quality win over a top-ranked team. In the first half, we turned over the ball too much but did much better in the second half. Guethle did a good job for us, wanted the ball and really stepped up," said Dexter coach Eric Sitze.
"I can't find anything we did wrong in the second half. I thought we executed well defensively and offensively."
Portageville was held to only four points in the fourth quarter while Dexter got 20 for the lopsided win.
Portageville's jayvee came from behind to defeat Dexter 51-44 to remain unbeaten on the season.
The Bulldogs will be right back in action Friday night as they will host the South Pemiscot Bulldogs. Also Friday Dexter will take to the road to meet the Bernie Mules.