Dexter, who was beating opponents by an average of 38 points per game prior to Saturday, trailed Class 5 Nerinx Hall for nearly all of the contest, but took the lead with nine seconds remaining and held on to defeat the Markers 54-53.
Trailing 53-52 with 13 seconds remaining, Dexter inbounded the ball to point guard Jill Temples who looked to pass and then drove to the basket, scoring the game-winning layup with nine seconds left on the clock.
Temples then played a big role in sealing the win for Dexter as Nerinx Hall's Melissa Murphy attempted to drive to the basket and began losing the ball. Temples came from behind and tipped the ball to a teammate to seal the game.
"I was just hustling and coach always teaches hustling," Temples said. "It just all kind of worked out."
Dexter, who has only eight players, fell behind early in the first quarter when three starters were forced to the bench with two fouls. The Markers capitalized, scoring the final seven points in the quarter to take an 18-8 lead.
"We definitely showed tonight what can happen if we get in foul trouble,"said Dexter coach Chad Allen. "The girls pulled through that adversity in the first half and did an unbelievable job in the second half chipping away slowly and ended up coming out with the win."
Nerinx Hall led by as many as 14 in the second quarter as they were able to get several second and third opportunities while some of Dexter's starters were on the bench in foul trouble. The Markers used a 22-9 rebounding advantage in the first half to take a 34-24 lead into the locker rooms.
"Coach lit into us," said Dexter's Katelyn Heil of the Lady Bearcats poor rebounding in the first half. "He told us we needed to start rebounding like we have been this year and we couldn't just leave it up to Abbie Warren. He kind got on to all of our cases and we busted our butts in the second half to get in there and get those."
Dexter, the top-ranked team in Class 4, then began battling back in the second half, as a Heil 3-pointer cut the lead to 45-40 at the end of three quarters.
Nerinx Hall built the lead to 50-42 with just over three minutes remaining, but the Lady Bearcats turned up the defensive pressure and after five points from Taylor, who had spent much of the game on the bench in foul trouble, Dexter trailed only 52-49.
"I knew I had let my team down there early in the game getting those silly fouls and I couldn't bear to let them down the rest of the game," Taylor said. "I had to step up and be a leader."
Taylor stepped up once again with just over a 1:30 left in the game when she stole the ball and passed to Temples who went in for a layup but lost the ball. However, Temples reacted quickly and saved the ball from going out-of-bounds, in the process passing to Warren who scored and was fouled. Warren then tied the game with her free throw.
"I knew if it went out of bounds the game would be over so I threw it back inbounds and Abbie Warren was there," Temples said. "We knew we weren't playing real well and we knew we had to come up with it. I think we showed a lot of heart."
Heil led Dexter in scoring with 19 points and six rebounds. The senior scored 12 of her team's 24 first half points as the Lady Bearcats struggled to find the basket.
"My instinct is just every ball is my ball and so every time a rebound went up my goal was to just go get it and take it to the hole," Heil said. "They were getting us in foul trouble and we needed to do the same to them. We just played as hard as we could all over the floor."
Temples finished the game with 15 points and also added four steals. Warren chipped in 13 points and 10 rebounds. As a team, Dexter finished 16-of-18 from the free throw line and hit 14 in-a-row after the first quarter.
"I'm really proud of our team and how we played today and keeping our composure," Heil said. "We kept each other in the game with our spirits up and we didn't get down on each other and that is one thing I'm really proud of."
Nerinx Hall was led by 5-11 juniors Mary Beth Mathias and Kirstie Yess. Both finished the game with 14 points while Yess had nine rebounds and Mathias 6.
For the game, Nerinx Hall outrebounded Dexter 32-23 but the Lady Bearcats held the edge in the second half 14-10.
"I think overall for the game Nerinx Hall outrebounded us but I thought we did a better job in the second half getting on the boards," Allen said. "Nerinx Hall is tall, they are aggressive and they are pretty tough inside but we just weren't doing a very good job blocking out."
With the win, Dexter improves to 17-0 on the season but still have tough games remaining with Poplar Bluff, Kelly and Notre Dame before districts.
"Games like this will definitely help you out, especially come playoffs, because we are going to have some games like this," Allen said. "It just shows that we can pull it off. We just have to keep on fighting."
Dexter 54, Nerinx Hall 53
NERINX HALL (53) -- Mary Beth Mathias 14, Kirstie Yess 14, Breland Basler 9, Melissa Murphy 6, Allie Eimie 6, Lexi Cochran 4. FG 19, FT 11-20, F 16. (3-pointers: Mathias 1, Murphy 1, Yess 1, Basler 1. Fouled out: none)
DEXTER (54) -- Katelyn Heil 19, Jill Temples 15, Abbie Warren 13, Ashlee Taylor 5, Cathryn Heil 2. FG 18, FT 16-18, F 17. (3-pointers: K. Heil 2. Fouled out: none)