(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
DEXTER -- It may have took a rough start that included a few bad losses, but the Dexter Lady Bearcats may be getting back into that same type of rhythm they were so comfortable with a year ago.
Now with three-straight wins including a 69-34 rout of the Sikeston Lady Bulldogs on Thursday night, the young Dexter squad is getting valuable playing experience in with just three returning members of their 28-2 team from a year ago to lean on.
"They knew it was going to be tough starting out especially being young," Dexter head coach Chad Allen. "They're getting some experience behind them. They're playing much better. They're handling the ball a lot better and we're actually pushing the ball down the floor in transition and looking great."
The Lady Bearcats had no problems pushing the ball up and down the court against Sikeston. Dexter (4-4) pressured the Lady Bulldog ball handlers relentlessly by either forcing a bad shot or simply taking the ball away from them for the transition layup on the other end.
"We had to really work for all of our baskets," Sikeston head coach Homer Jackson said. "They didn't really have to work on their baskets. They were more uncontested. Giving up too many layups and turning the basketball over are the kinds of things we need to work on."
Dexter raced out to an 8-point lead over the Lady Bulldogs (1-4) at the end of the first quarter and extended that margin to 18 by the half. Dexter's Abbie Warren and Lauren Ward, two of the three that saw significant playing time on last year's fourth place team in Class 4, paced the Lady Bearcats with 21 and 17 points.
Warren's 21 came by complete domination in the paint. She pulled down defensive and offensive rebounds all night with put-backs coming shortly after her offensive boards.
"Abbie is definitely our leader on the team," Allen said. "She hasn't been frustrated and she's just really pushing them. They're responding well."
The 17 points that came from Ward were mostly from the sophomore's shooting abilities. Ward hit three 3-pointers on the night and connected for a few more jump shots as well.
"She's really finding her rhythm now," Allen said about Ward. "She is lights out from the 3-point line and with her doing that it makes us a whole lot better. She just has a lot of confidence right now."
As for Sikeston, Asia Liggins was a bright spot for the Lady Bulldogs as she led her squad with 18 points.
"This is the level that we need to play at to be competitive," Jackson said. "Coach Allen has done a very good job with his girls on both sides of the ball and that's a lesson we can learn."
Both teams will be off until Saturday when they each compete in the Twin Rivers Lady Royal Classic as Twin River High School.
SIKESTON (34) -- Keyonna Blissett 4, Asia Liggins 18, Tyanne Townsend 2, Janai Ivory 2, Taneshia Pulley 2, Darquesha Howard 6. FG 15 FT 4-11 F 10. (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: none.)
DEXTER (69) -- Katelynn Frazier 6, Lauren Ward 17, Shelbie Hessling 3, Malinda Mayo 1, Brittany Harris 13, Erika Mouser 4, Abbie Warren 21, Kaitlyn Phillips 4. FG 29 FT 8-12 F 10. (3-pointers: Ward 3. Fouled out: none.)