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Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014

COLUMN - WHO WILL TAKE SECOND AT BLOOMFIELD THIS YEAR?

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

For the last three years, the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament has been a battle for second place.

Doniphan, Twin Rivers, Kennett and Portageville have all brought good teams to the event since 1998, but none have been on the same level as Dexter.

The Bearcats haven't just won -- they've dominated by an average score of 84 to 55.

Starting Dec. 26, Dexter again makes the short trip north with hopes of winning a fourth consecutive tournament championship.

Also on the line is a 22-game winning streak that the Bearcats have on Bloomfield's court, which is like a home-away-from-home for Dexter.

But can they keep their impeccable Bloomfield tradition alive without Brett Hale or Shannon Wright?

That was a good question heading into the season, but at this point, it's pretty obvious.

The Bearcats are more than capable.

Under first-year coach Eric Sitze, Dexter has been a pleasant surprise up to this point.

They're currently 5-0 with quality wins over Charleston, Sikeston, Notre Dame, Jackson and Twin Rivers.

Not bad for a team many expected to struggle.

Center Chris Carr was expected to be a go-to guy this year and he has delivered. He has really elevated his game on both ends of the floor. Matt Christian and Chad Gill have gone from role players to leaders, and point guard Chris Hyten has been as dominant on varsity as he was on last year's undefeated junior varsity.

Matt Burnett and Willie Dooley have also made an easy transition to varsity. And don't forget, their second-best player is wearing street clothes on the bench with a wrist injury.

When Kyle Christian returns to the lineup after Christmas, it might take Dexter to the next level.

A win over Poplar Bluff Friday and a clean sweep in the Bloomfield Tournament would put Dexter in the same class with Class 3A favorite New Madrid County Central.

So who takes second in this year's Bloomfield Tournament?

I say Portageville. The Bulldogs were seeded third in the tournament, and had second-seeded Kennett beat earlier in the year, but lost on a 3-pointer at the buzzer. After they beat North Pemiscot on Friday, Portageville will have won four straight heading into the tournament.