Bearcats dispose of Advance in SCAA semis
BLOOMFIELD - The 77th Annual Stoddard County Conference Tournament resumed on Thursday with the top-seeded Dexter Bearcats racing past Advance 91-77, while the No. 2 seeded Bell City Cubs defeated No. 6 Richland 66-56.
Dexter (15-2) will take on Bell City for the championship tonight at 8:30. Richland will face off with Advance at 5:30 in the third place game.
Dexter will be playing for its fourth straight SCAA Tournament championship while Bell City will be playing in the finals for the first time since 1981.
The Bearcats haven't lost on Bloomfield's court since 1998.
Against Advance, Dexter led just 48-46 at the half but was able to pull away in the second half with a better effort on the defensive end.
"I thought we had two or three spurts during the game," said Dexter head coach Eric Sitze. "That third quarter spurt was real big for us. It stretched it out a little bit and gave us a little room to breathe, so that was an important run for us."
The Bearcats opened the third quarter with a 15-5 run to lead 63-51. Advance never got closer than eight the rest of the way.
"I think the team with the most talent won the game," said Advance head coach Jim Hall. "They obviously have more talent than we have. They've got more size than we have. They got four or five kids that shoot it so well from the outside."
But the Hornets hung with the Bearcats for a half. Dexter led by as much as eight in the first quarter, but the Hornets cut the gap to 26-21 by the end of the period.
Advance (11-5) took charge in the second quarter behind the outside shooting of Jared Ritter, who canned four 3-pointers in the period.
"He's a good shooter and if you give him a good look at the basket he's going to knock a bunch of them down," said Hall of Ritter.
The Hornets led by three at three different points in the second quarter, but Dexter was able to regain its composure to lead 48-46 at the half.
Ritter finished with a team-high 25 points, but only eight came in the second half.
"He got real hot in the first half," said Sitze. "There were a few times that we had the hand in his face and he just hit the shot. I thought we did a better job challenging his shot in the second half and making him put it on the floor."
Dexter's Chad Gill had a huge night, scoring 27 points to lead all scorers.
"We were a lot better in the open floor and Chad got a lot of layups tonight off the fast break," said Sitze. "That's not coaching, that's just the kid running the floor hard. You have to do those kind of things against a team like Advance that plays pretty good defense down low."
Six-foot-seven Bearcat center Chris Carr finished with 20 points while Chris Hyten followed up with 16 and Kyle Christian added 12.
"It was tough for Advance to match up with (Carr), they didn't have the size that (he) has," said Sitze. "He's an athletic kid. In the second half we tried to get it to him a little bit more but they were putting two or three kids down there on him."
Another area that Dexter took advantage of was in the open floor, where they beat the Hornets back for several easy layups.
"That's the big thing they do -- running the floor," said Hall. "They really push the ball down on offense and they put so much pressure on your defense. The difference in the ballgame was their transition offense against our transition defense. I figured they scored 20 points off the fast break."
Andrew Jenkins had 17 points for the Hornets while Eric O'Hare had 12 and Cain Kelley had 10.
With the win over Richland, their second in three games with the Rebels, the Cubs will play for the SCAA Tournament championship for the first time since 1981.
Leading just 30-29 at the half, Bell City took control of the game in the third quarter with an 11-5 run to lead 41-34.
The Cubs were able to take care of business from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, making 13-of-17, to hold on for the victory.
"I don't feel like we played up to our potential but the important thing is that we won and advanced in the tournament," said Bell City head coach David Heeb. "I think we can shoot a lot better, but we made up for it in other ways. Luke Phillips did a great job on Sherome Cole and we really rebounded well tonight."
Cole scored 21 points on the night but had only six entering the fourth quarter.
Bell City (16-3) was led by C.J. Hadley's 22 points, with 15 coming in the first half. Eric Henry added 20, including 11 in the fourth quarter.
Richland tied the score at 17-17 at the end of the first quarter when Marcus Redmond banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The Rebels (8-10) led 22-17 early in the second quarter but a Hadley basket ended a 16-2 run by Richland.
The Cubs then started an 11-0 run to take the lead for good.
Richland's Josh McMullin scored 17 points in the losing cause.
Dominitrix Johnson added 13 for the Cubs.
"Our kids are excited and I think it's good for any team that's got aspirations in March to get into some kind of championship situation in the regular season," said Heeb. "I think it helps us get ready for the district. Hopefully we can come out and have a good showing.
"(Dexter has) a real fine club. For us to have a chance to beat them we're going to have to probably play over our head and hope to contain some of their shooters."