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Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016

Dexter wins first title since 1976

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Dexter Bearcat players celebrate.
CAPE GIRARDEAU - One day after Chicago Cubs fans destroyed the Steve Bartman baseball that cost the team the World Series last fall, the Dexter Bearcats exorcised their own demons on Friday night at Notre Dame High School in the Class 4, District 1 Tournament.

The top-seeded Bearcats went out on Friday with a businessman-like attitude and totally dismantled second-seeded Fredericktown 80-48, clinching the school's first title since 1976.

Dexter (21-6) moves on to play DeSoto in the Class 4 Sectional at Mineral Area College at 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday.

While many fans in Dexter Nation may have felt they were under a district championship curse much like the Cubs' baseball woes, the Bearcats didn't do anything out of the ordinary to break the curse -- except win.

No blown up basketballs. No voodoo or witchcraft. Just vintage Bearcat basketball, complete with a high-octane offense and a trapping, swarming full-court press that gave Fredericktown fits.

After years of dominating regular season games and tournaments only to come up short in the district tournament, Dexter head coach Eric Sitze may have been more relieved than excited.

"We would have traded all of those tournaments for a district title," said Sitze. "We're glad to get this one this year. These kids, that was one of their main goals, they knew they could obtain it and they went out and worked for it and got it."

It almost came too easy for the Bearcats.

Even their postgame celebration was more of a "been there, done that" attitude, mainly because of the anticlimatic 32-point win.

"Well, you know, you hear all the talk about you moving on to the next game already before the game ever starts and you hope your kids don't pay attention to all of that," said Sitze. "I don't think they did tonight. They stepped up and played hard and put them out early."

Early on it looked like the heavy underdog Blackcats would be up to the challenge as they took a 5-4 lead on a Josh Collier 3-pointer.

But Dexter quickly erased any notion of an upset as they ripped off an 11-0 run to take the lead for good.

A Josh Miller 3-pointer just before the first quarter horn gave Dexter a 22-11 lead.

Fredericktown (20-7) never got closer than 11 points the rest of the way.

Dexter's zone press caused the Blackcats all kinds of problems, which caught head coach Brett Reutzel by surprise.

"No one's been able to press us all year and that didn't go our way too much," said Reutzel. "And then when we got through it and got past halfcourt, we'd turn it over anyway. That's what got me. When we started turning the ball over on the press, they smelled blood and they started knocking down big shots."

Dexter's onslaught wouldn't relent as they steadily built the lead throughout the game.

The Bearcats led 42-23 at the half and 64-39 heading into the fourth quarter.

"We also had a few rim-rattlers early in the game," said Reutzel. "Had they gone down, we might've had more confidence. My hat's off to them. They came out and they played really well and they shot the ball really well. Everybody was hitting shots."

Everybody, including senior reserve Levi Rawson, who finished with 11 points on three 3-pointers.

"(Levi) came out and shot the ball well.," Sitze said. "He can do that, he's done that in games. We have other weapons beside Derek and Josh and other kids stepped up again tonight."

Junior Chris Guethle stepped up to score 19 points. The Bearcats needed the extra boost as 6-6 standout Derek Demaree battled foul problems in the first half.

"We could have very easily got rattled when Demaree was sitting on the bench most of the second quarter," said Sitze. "The other kids did a good job of stepping up and they didn't lose their composure and held their own out there."

Miller finished with a game-high 21 points.

Fredericktown was led by Brett Reutzel's 14 points. Collier added 12 points.

Six-foot-3 postman D.J. Hinkle was held to six points.

Fredericktown, which is in the middle of its own district drought dating back to 1989, has come a long way since Reutzel arrived three years ago.

"I don't think Fredericktown's won a district game in 10 years," said Reutzel. "We were conference champs this year. We won two games two years ago, 10 last year and 20 this year. I couldn't be more proud of them, I'm just sorry that it had to end like it did. I would've rather got beat by 20 than 40."