DEXTER - The Dexter Bearcats may have lost all-stater Brett Hale and all-region performer Shannon Wright, but it sure didn't seem to phase them much on Friday night against the Sikeston Bulldogs at Dexter High School.
The Bearcats looked in mid-season form, routing the Bulldogs 75-43.
"We didn't play very well," said Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield. "It was Dexter's opening night at home and they came out and played really well. They were more ready to play than we were. We stood around a lot and just didn't play very well. You've got to give them credit, they're an outstanding basketball team and they're going to be very tough in our district."
Dexter jumped out to an 11-1 lead only to see Sikeston trim it back to 13-11 on a Tori Rose steal and layup. But the Bearcats finished the first quarter on a 9-2 run, highlighted by Matt Christian's 3-pointer at the buzzer to lead 22-13.
It was all downhill from there for the Bulldogs. Sikeston was down only 30-20 with 3:33 left in the half but that was as close as they would get.
The Bearcats led 38-23 at halftime.
Dexter continued to pour it on in the second half, outscoring Sikeston 19-8 in the third quarter. Christian again ended the quarter with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to open up a 57-31 lead.
"I'm real happy, especially with our defense and rebounding," said first-year Dexter head coach Eric Sitze. "They really cranked up the defensive intensity there for a while. But we maintained the lead, we had a few turnovers, but we came back and scored a few buckets. I think Matt Christian's 3-pointers at the end of the quarters were big momentum swingers for us."
The Bulldogs were plagued by turnovers, committing 28 in the game, with most coming off the zone press the Bearcats employed.
"We just didn't play with the intensity that we've got to play with," said Holifield. "We missed shots and they made shots. Their intensity was better than ours and we've got to get to a point to where we play with better intensity."
Sikeston only shot 16-of-52 (31 percent) on the night. Lontas McClinton led the way for Sikeston, scoring 11 points with eight rebounds. He also drew three charges.
No other Bulldog reached double figures.
Dexter's 6-foot-7 center Chris Carr scored a team-high 16 points while grabbing 17 rebounds. Point guard Chris Hyten scored 14 points while Matt Burnett had 10 points.
"Every night we might have somebody different lead us in scoring," said Sitze. "We've just got to keep patting each other on the back, and whoever it is that night we need to go to him and get him the ball. I was really surprised by the final margin. But right now I'm surprised about everything we do. I've got a lot of juniors that have never experienced varsity basketball. Probably except for Chris Carr, the rest of those seniors were role players last year. Now they've got to be leaders."
Dexter will host Notre Dame on Tuesday at 6 p.m. Sikeston played De Soto on Saturday night. Results from that game will be in Monday's paper.
Sikeston will host the Sikeston Invitational Tournament starting tomorrow.
The Sikeston junior varsity team fell to 4-2 on the season, dropping a 65-53 contest to Dexter.
Sikeston trailed throughout the game, but they outscored Dexter 26-15 in the fourth quarter to keep the score respectable.
Sikeston's Freddie Wiggins led all scorers with 20 points and 15 rebounds.
Dexter was led by Derek Demaree with 16 points and Anthony Elfrink with 13.