PERRYVILLE -- The Dexter Lady Bearcats moved one step closer of becoming Class 4 district champions Friday night when they beat the host Perryville squad in a Class 4, District 1 semifinal, 64-29.
It had been a little over a week since Dexter had last seen action on the hardwood but after taking a 6-4 lead in the opening minutes of the first quarter, the Lady Bearcats showed no sign of rust as things were just beginning to pick up for the top seed.
After an Ashlee Taylor jump shot in the lane, the Lady 'Cats went on an 11-0 run, capped off by three consecutive free throws by senior Brooke Thrower who was fouled on a 3-point attempt at the buzzer, to close out the first quarter up 17-4. Dexter held their opponent scoreless in the first eight after two early baskets by Perryville's Ava Johnson.
"I was definitely impressed with how the girls came out and played tonight," said Dexter coach Chad Allen. "Defensively we just shut them down, created several turnovers and got quite a few points off those turnovers. It was one of our better defensive games all year."
But that would be as close as the No. 4 seed team would get after the ball landed in the hands of 5-10 junior Katelyn Heil. With 2:49 left remaining the first half, Heil connected on a 3-point attempt and drew a foul to give her team a four-point possession, consequently stretching their lead back to double digits.
"I've been struggling lately with three's so I was happy that it went in and it was just a confidence booster," said Heil. "We needed something to change the momentum. They were getting steals and we began to get down on ourselves. We just needed something to boost us up and I think that's what did it."
The play would spark another run for Dexter, 8-0, to put the Lady Bearcats up 28-16. But the No. 1 seed wasn't done there as they continued to extend their lead, taking a 34-19 advantage before halftime after Jill Temples drove the length of the floor with 4.7 seconds left to play, banking a shot off the backboard as time expired.
The Lady 'Cats came out of the locker room in the third quarter with a similar flare that they began the game with. On the shoulders of Heil, who had 16 points and two 3-pointers including one at the buzzer in the third period, Dexter extended their lead to 29 for the final eight minutes of regulation, 56-27.
(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
"I was very disappointed in our effort tonight, we just didn't execute" said Perryville head coach Vicki Lohmann. "On defense, we didn't block them off well and let them have second and third shots. On offense I felt like we started playing one-on-one. We weren't confident with the ball on our end of the floor and they caused us to turn the ball over which they're very good at doing.
"We made several mistakes, turned the ball over and watched them come down to shoot lay-ups and high percentage shots are gonna get you beat every time."
Perryville was lead by Ava Johnson who had 10 points while Alyssa Bauwens chipped in with eight. The Lady Pirates finished the season with the final record of 20-6.
The Lady Cats' were lead by Heil's 30 points including three 3-pointers. Taylor got in on the action with 12 points while Temples had 11. As a team, Dexter made 13-14 from the free throw line.
"I was very happy of how I played tonight but I couldn't have done it with out my other girls," said Heil. "We all played excellent tonight and hustled really well. We've been struggling lately, had a few games where maybe we won but we just didn't play the game we wanted. But tonight we actually played our game out there so we're really excited."
The Lady Bearcats (21-4) took on Fredericktown, 53-50 winners over Notre Dame Friday, for the district championship Saturday afteroon. Results can be found in Monday's edition of the Standard Democrat.