(David Jenkins, Staff)
But seniors Jill Temples, Ashlee Taylor and Cathryn Heil rose to the occasion and willed the Lady Bearcats to a 60-57 win over Farmington, advancing to the Class 4 quarterfinals on Saturday night.
"This game tonight just shows how much heart these girls have," said Dexter coach Chad Allen. "I am so proud of them. Even though we got in major foul trouble our seniors stepped up. Cathryn, Jill and Ashlee there at the end really stepped up."
Trailing 55-52, Dexter junior Abbie Warren hit a free throw and then put back an offensive rebound a short time later to tie the game at 55. Heil then put Dexter ahead 57-55 with 1:30 left in the game but the Knightettes answered when Whitney Heuring scored underneath just 15 seconds later.
Heil was then fouled on a pick-and-roll and sunk one free throw with 51 seconds remaining giving Dexter a lead they wouldn't relinquish. After missing the second free throw, Farmington senior Taylor Jensen attempted a 3-pointer that was off the mark as Taylor pulled down the rebound and was fouled. The Dexter senior made the second free throw, giving the Lady Bearcats a 59-57 lead with 18 seconds remaining.
Farmington then worked the ball to senior Holli Hoehn who put up a 3-pointer but Taylor leaped and blocked the shot as the loose ball was recovered by Dexter freshman Lauren Ward with six seconds remaining.
"We probably got a little quick on the trigger," said Farmington coach Steve McFarland of the 3-pointer. "We kicked the ball out and she had (Taylor) coming at her. We would have liked to put it on the floor and got it in the middle and got a 3-point conventional play out of it, but that isn't what happened."
"We told them in the huddle to try and contain Jensen that way we wouldn't have to help off as much," Allen said. "I thought we did that. They ended up trying that 3 and Ashlee Taylor was within distance of her and it was a nice block. That probably saved the game."
Taylor said she wasn't ready for the season to be over Wednesday night.
"Somebody had to step up," Taylor said. "It wasn't going to be my last game. We weren't going to go out."
The game wasn't over however as Ward was fouled and stepped to the line with an enormous amount of pressure. The freshman made the first free throw, giving the Lady Bearcats a three-point advantage.
"It felt amazing," Ward said of hitting the free throw. "I didn't know I could feel so many emotions. I just wanted to win it for the girls."
"I am so proud of her," said Dexter's Katelyn Heil. "She is our freshman and she was shaking in her boots to get in that game. Every time she is on the court with us we tell her she belongs there with us and deserves to be there. Her hitting that free throw just shows that she is finally stepping into her role and that is exactly what we need her for."
Farmington threw up a 3-pointer at the buzzer that was off the mark and the Dexter team rushed the floor in celebration.
Dexter needed the big performances from their seniors as Katelyn Heil spent a majority of the game on the bench in foul trouble, fouling out with 6:49 remaining in the game.
"I am so proud of my team," Katelyn Heil said. "They played extremely hard and it was hard for me to sit there and watch and know I couldn't help them at all. But they stepped up really big. (Ashlee Taylor) stepped up as a leader. Jill (Temples) took care of the ball. Lauren (Ward), our freshman stepped up and made the game-winning shot. I am so proud of this team. That just shows how tight we are and that we don't have an all-star on the team that needs to be in there all of the game. All of us can score and all of us can do it."
With Heil on the bench, Temples and Taylor supplied much of the offense for the Lady Bearcats as both continually drove to the basket and either delivered a pass to an open teammate, scored or drew a foul.
"Coach told me and Ashlee to take care of business so we tried to get open as much as we could and drive the lane," said Temples who was celebrating her 18th birthday Wednesday.
"We ran a little pick-and-roll with them there at the end," Allen said. "I thought I would put it in their hands and let them take over and they did. They got a lot of points there late and they just did a tremendous job."
Both teams experienced foul trouble in the game as 43 fouls were called and the teams combined to shoot 56 free throws. Three players for Farmington and two for Dexter fouled out of the game.
"That is hard on us when they call the touch fouls and reaching and things," said Katelyn Heil who played a total of two-and-a-half minutes in the second half. "We knew coming up here it would be that way. It is just hard for us to adjust. I think toward the end we figured it out and did a little better. We'll work on that because we know the farther north we go they don't play the same way we do in the south."
Dexter was led in scoring by Warren who ended the game with 16 points and 8 rebounds. Taylor finished with 14 points and 8 rebounds and Temples finished with 13 points. Both Taylor and Temples scored nine points apiece in the second half. Both Katelyn and Cathryn Heil finished the game with seven points.
Farmington (22-6) was led by Jensen's 18 points. Molly Barnes added 10 for the Knightettes before fouling out.
"I thought the girls did everything they could do," McFarland said. "They put it all out on the floor and did everything they could except come out on top."
With the win, Dexter avenged a 48-35 loss to the Knightettes in the sectional game last season.
"We beat them earlier in the season so we were kind of worried about overlooking them," Temples said. "We really wanted revenge from last season."
Dexter (27-0) will take on Sullivan Saturday night at 8 p.m. at the Farmington Civic Center. The Lady Bearcats, who will be making their second-ever appearance in the state quarterfinals, defeated Sullivan 59-36 in early December.
FARMINGTON (57) -- Erin Littrell 9, Molly Barnes 10, Taylor Jensen 18, Morgan Ankrom 6, Whitney Heuring 5, Hollie Hoehn 8, Kaitlin Knox 1. FG 18, FT 17-27, F 21. (3-pointers: Hoehn 2, Jensen 1, Barnes 1. Fouled out: Littrell, Barnes, Ankrom).
DEXTER (60) -- Lauren Ward 1, Katelyn Heil 7, Jill Temples 13, Kayla Joyner 2, Ashlee Taylor 14, Abbie Warren 16, Cathryn Heil 7. (3-pointers: Taylor 1. Fouled out: K. Heil, Joyner).