DEXTER -- Bernie coach Morris Karnes had a sneaky suspicion that his Bernie Mules were about to break out of a season-long shooting slump.
Before Bernie's Highway 25 rivalry game at Dexter Friday night, Karnes said his team's shooting woes was the biggest disappointment of the season so far but, "maybe tonight will be the night we snap out of it."
He was right on target with his prediction.
Bernie knocked down 3-pointers from all over the court, but it wasn't until Marcus Massey's jumper at the buzzer that the Mules celebrated a 60-59 Stoddard County Activities Association (SCAA) Conference win over the Dexter Bearcats.
Britt Arnold had six 3-pointers and Doug Johnson added five, but it was Massey's third basket of the game that proved to be the difference.
Bernie (5-6, 2-2) connected for a total of 12 3-pointers as the Mules defeated Dexter for the first time since 1999 and spoiled the 'Cats Homecoming celebration.
"I know its tough for Dexter, and Eric (Sitze) too as a coach," Karnes said after the exciting win. "All the county schools get up for Dexter. If our kids, and I told them in there (the locker room after the game), if we got up and was motivated to play everybody as much as we did Dexter, we'd be a much better team.
"You get that rivalry, big school little school type thing, and I knew our kids would come out and play hard but I didn't know if we'd shoot the ball well because we haven't been shooting the ball well. But we did tonight."
Arnold had a game-high 22 points and Johnson netted 17, but it all came down to the final six seconds to decide a winner. Dexter had just taken a 59
-58 lead as Aaron Jackson connected on one-of-two free throws with 36 second remaining, so it was up to Bernie to try and set up the game winner.
"People probably won't believe this, but we set that inbounds play up for the ball to come back to him (Massey), because I didn't think they'd (Dexter) be ready for him," Karnes said. "I thought they would let him shoot it.
"I knew defensively that they weren't going to let someone like Britt (Arnold) or Doug (Johnson) or one of those guys shoot the ball," he continued. "It didn't really work like it was drawn up, but at least he (Massey) got the ball and had enough knowledge of where the time was to get it off."
"That's who you want shooting it," said Dexter coach Eric Sitze, disappointed by late turn of events. "That might have been the same kid that banked one in from 15 feet. Everything they threw up was going in the hole.
"We went to a triangle and two and took those two guys (Arnold and Johnson) away that were hitting all the 3's, but their other guys stepped up and hit some big shots for them," he added. "He (Massey) had to shot over Drew (Satterfield), he was 15 feet away from the basket, it was a tough shot."
The game was a see-saw affair from the opening tip-off.
Arnold hit his third 3-pointer of the first period to tie the score at 13-all heading into the second period.
Eric Rinehart scored two of his team-high 17 points to give Dexter a brief 15
-13 lead before Arnold connected on his fourth trey of the game (16-15).
"That's by far the best game Britt Arnold has played all year," Karnes said. "Doug Johnson hit some shots in the second half, but he's done that before this year, Britt hasn't.
"That's by far the best game he's played all year. I told coach Botsch over the last day or so, that if Britt doesn't get 20, we didn't have a chance. This is just a big win for us. Maybe it will jump start us for the rest of the season."
Junior Cole Smith (nine points) responded to Arnold's long range attack with two 3-pointers in the second period as Dexter built the game's biggest lead at 25-18, but it would be Arnold's fifth 3-pointer of the first half and Johnson's first from behind the arc that cut Dexter's lead to 31-28 at the half.
Smith opened the third period scoring with his third trifecta, but it was Arnold's sixth trey and four 3-pointers by Johnson in the third period that help Bernie wrestle the lead away from Dexter (45-44) heading into the final period.
The game was tied six times over the final eight minutes of play before Massey's game-winner at he buzzer.
Drew Satterfield led the Bearcats with 18 points, 17 in the first half as the 'Cats pounded the ball inside. Rinehart netted 17, several coming on offensive rebounds and put backs.
Junior Derrik Chamberlain provided Dexter with some needed energy in the second half, scoring six of his 12-points in the final period to keep the 'Cats in the game.
"Derrik (Chamberlain) did a good job tonight," Sitze said. "He came in their and penetrated the zone. You can't be intimidated by the zone, you have to attack it with dribble and the pass. Maybe this will open our kids eyes to what they have to do against a zone."
Dexter's record falls to 5-9, 1-1 in SCAA play, with the loss.
In junior varsity action, Dexter defeated Bernie, 68-35. Logan Carwile, with three 3-pointers, led the 'Cat with 14 points.
The jayvee 'Cats improved to 9-4 on the season. Dexter and Bernie both will next be in action Tuesday (Jan. 17). Dexter will travel to Puxico while the Mules will be on the road at Neelyville. Jayvee action for both teams will start at 6 p.m. with varsity play to follow.