SIKESTON - The Class 4, District 1 girls basketball tournament will begin on Monday at the Sikeston Field House.
Defending champion Fredericktown (21-2) earned the No. 1 seed and a bye in the first round. Last season, the Lady 'Cats defeated Dexter in a thrilling district final before losing to Lutheran South in the quarterfinals. Lutheran South captured third place last year in Class 4.
Like last season, Fredericktown is led by guard Courtney Kemp and 6-foot-1 center Betsy Royer. Kemp is a scoring machine averaging over 20 points per game for Fredericktown and Royer is a shot-blocking force in the middle. The Lady Blackcats two losses this season are to the fifth ranked team in Class 4, Farmington.
Notre Dame (16-7) received the No. 2 seed and also was awarded with a bye through the first round. Notre Dame has 10 district titles, including eight straight from 1997-2004.
Notre Dame won the SEMO Conference girls title and counted among their losses are two to Farmington and one each to Fredericktown and Jackson locally. Notre Dame has also lost to the top-ranked and 10th ranked team in Class 5, Incarnate Word and St. Joseph's, out of St. Louis.
Kristain Burger is the leading scorer for Notre Dame. The 5-10 forward is averaging 19 points and 12 rebounds per contest. Senior guard Meredith Medlin is the second leading scorer averaging 15 points a game for Notre Dame.
Dexter (19-5) earned the No. 3 seed and will face No. 6 seed Sikeston (4-17) in the first round on Monday at 7:30 p.m. The winner will battle Notre Dame on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
The Lady Bearcats won their first and only district title in 2005 and have a young, but talented group of players. Four sophomores are making huge contributions for the Lady Bearcats and a junior leads a balanced scoring attack.
Amanda Dooley, a 5-11 forward, leads Dexter averaging 13 points per game and has a five rebounds per game average. Senior Haylee Finch is averaging 11 points and four rebounds per game, while 5-10 sophomore Katelyn Heil is also averaging 11 points with seven rebounds per game for the Lady Bearcats.
Sophomore forward Ashlee Taylor is a force inside for Dexter and is averaging 10 points and five rebounds a game. Fellow sophomore, point guard Jill Temples has an average of nine points and three assists per game.
Senior Molly Burleson and sophomore Cathryn Heil are the first off the bench for the Lady Bearcats. Burleson averages five points a game and Heil is contributing four rebounds per game for Dexter.
"The girls are very excited about districts," said Dexter head coach Gavin Miller. "I think they are excited because no one is thinking about us. Everybody believes that Fredericktown and Notre Dame will meet for the championship on Friday. We have a new group of young athletes that are excited to show what we can do."
The five losses by the Lady Bearcats have been to top-notch competition. Dexter has lost to Class 5 area power Jackson twice and to the current No. 9 ranked team in Class 5, Nerinx Hall out of St. Louis. Notre Dame has defeated Dexter twice this year, with the last loss being 60-57 a couple of weeks ago.
Sikeston is led by 5-10 senior Latoya Gipson who is averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds per game. The Lady Bulldogs lost to Dexter in late December, 71-21.
"Although Sikeston has struggled some this year," said Miller, "we are in no way going to look past them to Notre Dame. Sikeston has some talented athletes and looking at some box scores recently, they seem to be scoring more. Nobody over here is looking past Sikeston. I am going to scout and look at film of them just like I would for Fredericktown or Notre Dame."
The Perryville Lady Pirates (15-8) are seeded No. 4 and will face the fifth seeded Ste. Genevieve Lady Dragons (18-6) on Monday at 6 p.m. The winner will challenge Fredericktown on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Perryville was a powerhouse in the '80's winning seven straight district titles from 1983-1989. The Lady Pirates were Class 3A state champs in 1986. The school finished in second place in 1984, 1987 and 1992. Perryville captured third place in 1983 and fourth in 1991.
The Lady Pirates last won a district title back in 1995.
Ste. Gen lost to Perryville 50-42 earlier in the year and has also been defeated by Fredericktown. The 18 wins by the Lady Dragons is a school record.
Lindsay Rhodes, a 5-10 senior forward, leads the Lady Dragons averaging 17 points and nine rebounds per game. Rhodes is the all-time leading scorer at Ste. Gen and has recently topped the 1,500 point plateau for her career.
The second leading scorer on the Lady Dragons is 5-9 senior guard Sara Sleig, who is averaging eight points per game. Off the bench for Ste. Gen, 5-10 sophomore Holley Fox is averaging around eight rebounds per game.
The finals are set for Friday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. at the Field House.