CHARLESTON -- Who needs Shannon Wright or Brett Hale?
Dexter took a five-point lead into the fourth quarter and turned it into a 62-47 victory Tuesday night, hitting 15-of-18 free throws in the final period to beat Charleston.
Beating the projected area power on their home floor in such a convincing fashion was an impressive debut for the Bearcats and first-year coach Eric Sitze.
"Anytime you can get a win here at Charleston, you have to feel good about yourself," said Sitze. "These kids are used to winning and they play to the end. When you've got that, you're going to be in a lot of ballgames. Before the game, I told the kids Brett and Shannon are gone, and that this is their team. They are the ones who decide if we're going to win or lose. I'm real proud of all of them."
Charleston (0-1), which lost just one home game all of last year, was out of sync all night. The Bluejays turned the ball over 30 times, had several defensive breakdowns and missed numerous shots.
"We're a lot better than that," said Charleston coach Danny Farmer. "Judging from this game, we're still a long ways away from reaching our full potential. You could see bits and pieces of it, but we've still got work to do. We made poor decisions and missed a bunch of easy shot. It just seemed like we had the jitters all night."
Chris Hyten led all Dexter scorers with 17 points, 14 of which were free throws. The 5-foot-8 junior nailed eight foul shots in the fourth to preserve the victory for the Bearcats.
Chad Gill and Matt Christian both showed Dexter is still a multi-faceted 3-point threat, combining for 24 points. The 6-foot-7 center Chris Carr scored 13 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and drew three crucial charges on Charleston's Jemorrio Betts, who was held to just three points.
Early on, Dexter took advantage of 18 Charleston turnovers to jump out to a 27-9 lead. Led by Lezcano Dean, the Bluejays were able to shave the lead down to seven points at halftime. In the third quarter Charleston pulled as close as two, but never took the lead.
"(Dexter) put on a press, and it took us a whole half to solve it," said Farmer. "It seemed to me as if we just quit playing. I don't know if it was fatigue or if Dexter just wanted the game more. I knew we were in trouble if we had to foul."
That's exactly what happened in the final period, and as expected, the Bearcats were nearly flawless from the charity stripe.
Dexter outscored Charleston 19-9 in the final period to cap off the 62-47 victory.
"We can do either one of two things," said Farmer. "We're either going to lay down or we're going to pick it up."
Dean led all Charleston scorers with 15 points. Jordy Mixon followed with 12.
Dexter (1-0) will host Sikeston on Friday, while Charleston will play in the Sikeston Invitational, which starts on Monday.
In Tuesday's junior varsity game, Dexter defeated Charleston 56-49. Josh Miller led Dexter with 18 points, while Zecoby Moore paced the Bluejays with 10.