(Photos by Andrew Powell, Staff)
BROSELEY -- The Lady Royals Christmas Classic was in semifinal action Thursday night with Dexter and Naylor each coming away with victories to earn a spot in the championship game. On the other side of the bracket New Madrid managed to edge out a win to put them in the consolation final.
One of the semifinal match ups of the night pinned the Dexter Lady Bearcats against the Portageville Lady Bulldogs. When the buzzer sounded it was Dexter who handed Lady Bulldogs their first loss of the season 64-52.
Portageville battled hard but the Lady Bearcats' size and athleticism enabled them to steadily pull away in the second half.
"It was a fast pace game against a very good Dexter team," said Portageville head coach Eric Ellerbrook. "They are just a consistent team who plays good basketball and has a knack for being around the goal to put it in."
"They really stepped up and had a great game tonight," said Dexter head coach Chad Allen. "We needed a big game from them though. Portageville is a great team, real scrappy and they stay after it all four quarters."
At the end of the first half, Dexter headed into the locker rooms only up five points at 28-23 with the Lady Bulldogs right on their heels. The first two quarters was showcased by back-and-forth action with each team coming up with defensive stops and timely baskets throughout.
Portageville did manage to cut the lead down to three points early in the third quarter after a Kellye Penn basket. But that would be as close as the Lady Bulldogs would get as timely turnovers propelled the Lady Bearcats to a run that put them up 44-31 heading into the final quarter.
"Both teams put a lot of defensive pressure on the ball," said Ellerbrook. "When you play a game as aggressive as this, there are going to be turnovers but it's all about who can capitalize on those turnovers.
Portageville was lead by Penn who had 18 points and 6-8 shooting from the free throw line while Jaleea Drake chipped in with 12.
The Lady Bulldogs (12-1) will play in the third place game tonight against the Kelly Lady Hawks at 6:00 p.m. Dexter (8-2) will face the Naylor Lady Eagles in the championship game at 7:30 p.m.
The Kelly girls were one half short from playing Dexter in the finals of the Lady Royals Classic, but then things fell apart.
Trailing 26-24 at the half, Naylor used a 17-0 run in the third quarter to put Kelly away as they cruised to a 62-38 win.
"It was two completely different halves," said Naylor coach Gene Deckard. "I told the girls we had to rebound. They were a little skeptical about the first half, and we got beat on the boards. The second half we came out and completely dominated the boards and dominated the game."
"That's what good teams do, they find ways to get better and win," said Kelly coach Rod McQuerter. "But I'm proud of my girls for playing hard and never giving up."
The Lady Hawks fell behind early in the game and trailed 13-10 after the first quarter but rallied in the second to take the halftime lead.
"Both teams came out and played very hard and very well," McQuerter said. "We played excellent in the first half but Naylor is a really good team and stepped it up like good teams do in the second half."
Naylor's Hailee Deckard stole the show, collecting a triple-double with 30 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
"Hailee is one of those people that doesn't care if she scores or assists," Deckard said. "In our one-point win against Greenville, I think she only scored 14 points but she had six assists and 13 rebounds out of 45 points. She almost thinks as much of an assist than she does the points."
Moriah Goodrum finished with 12 points and Cheyenne Hollowell ended with eight for the Lady Eagles.
"Hollowell, Ragsdale and Goodrum have really been doing a good job in the trenches," Deckard said. "They don't get a lot of notice for it, but they could be the stars because they're playing much bigger kids and really holding their own."
Kelly was led in scoring by Londyn Backfisch's 17. Debra Hall finished with 11.
Kelly (6-2) will play Portageville in the third place game at 6 p.m. tonight.
New Madrid County Central jumped out to a 16-8 lead in the first quarter of the consolation semifinal game against Sikeston and held on to beat the Lady Bulldogs 45-43.
The game was close the entire way and the Lady Bulldogs cut the NMCC lead down to one when a Monika Gray-El basket made the score 39-38 with 2:09 left to play.
However, four-straight points by Jasmine Beasley, helped by a Lady Bulldog turnover made the score 43-38 essentially ending Sikeston's hope.
"What I do like about it is that in the end we kept putting ourselves in a position to score and getting ourselves in a position to win," said Sikeston coach Homer Jackson. "That was very good for us. The ball just didn't fall."
Timely turnovers played a key part in the game as each time Sikeston seemed ready to take the lead errant passes thwarted their opportunities.
"Our achilles heel has been throwing the ball away," said Jackson. "We're trying to get the basketball to a teammate and we throw the ball either too long or too short. We're not sharp enough on our passes when we need to be."
NMCC's quick defenders can be credited for some of those turnovers down the stretch.
"One thing I stress is defense," said NMCC coach David Crockett. "When you get down like that and they make runs you have to make a defensive stop. We're pretty quick across the board and we've got quick hands and that got us going."
Sikeston (2-6) was led in scoring by Amber Minner's 12 points. Sophomore Mary Deason added 11 and Gray-El scored nine.
"(Gray-El) gave us fits, more than I thought she should," Crockett said. "We played pretty flat most of the time but they put us in some tough situations tonight. But hey, we got a win and that's what we came here for."
NMCC (5-6) was led by Shameika Williams' 18 points. Beasley finished with 12 points.
The Lady Eagles will play Doniphan in the consolation finals today at 3 p.m. while Sikeston will be off until Jan. 3 when they host Kelly.