(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
BLOOMFIELD -- Bernie junior Cameron Shipman drove two, huge daggers into the hopes of a Dexter Bearcat upset on Tuesday night in the rival's semifinal match-up at the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament.
After Jon Bowman had just given Dexter a 51-49 lead and a big momentum shift with just under six minutes left in regulation, Shipman sank, not one, but two, back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Mules a 55-51 lead and an eventual 57-53 win.
"We just didn't find him there for about two trips," Dexter head coach Rob Nichols said about Shipman. "They weren't doing anything different and we didn't do anything different, we just lost a little bit of focus and didn't find him."
Following Shipman's game-changing 3-pointers and two missed opportunities from Bernie to seal the game at the free throw line, Dexter would end up with a chance to tie the game.
Bernie's second missed free throw was pulled down by Flannigan and Dexter quickly moved the ball up court and called a timeout with 15.8 seconds left. The inbounds pass wound up in the hands of senior guard Brandon Stoker who quickly realized he had an open lane to work with. Stoker drove past his defender towards the basket and put up a left-handed layup that hit the side of the rim and fell to the floor.
"That wasn't what we drew up out of the timeout but we probably got a better shot than what we were going to get off the play," Nichols said. "Brandon got a clean look from about eight feet and it just didn't go. You can't ask for a better shot that what we got.
"He made the best decision he could make. He did a pretty good job of getting a shot for us."
A Bernie rebound was quickly tossed to the other end of the court and landed in the hands of the Mules' Jake Owens who sped down court for a game ending, insurance layup at the buzzer. That was the only field goal that followed Shipman's two 3-pointers over a span of five minutes.
"Those were two huge 3-pointers," Bernie head coach Brad Botsch said.
From what never got away from a 5-point game, each team traded the lead throughout the entire four quarters. Dexter led by one point after every quarter but the last.
"Bernie-Dexter is going to be close most years no matter who's the favorite," said Botsch.
Both squads had to deal with foul trouble from some of their prominent scorers. Dexter's Flannigan and senior Ryan Windham were battling foul problems while Bernie's 6-5 senior Jake Smith also picked up three quick fouls to start the second half to total him at four for the night.
"With three of four guys being in foul trouble that kind of really put a damper on us offensively through big stretches of the game," Nichols said.
Windham eventually fouled out early in the fourth quarter and with Smith out for the Mules primarily for most of the second half, Dexter wanted to try and pound the ball inside to take advantage of the 6-5 senior's absence. Unfortunately for the Bearcats, nothing transpired from it.
"They went zone and we were trying to hit the high post a little bit and we never could get it in there," said Nichols. "We dribbled around a little too much and never got the ball in the high post where it needed to go."
Botsch noted the inside play of sophomore Jordan McGowan as limiting the post opportunities for Dexter with Smith on the bench.
Despite being in foul trouble, Flannigan led Dexter with 15 points while Stoker added 10.
Bernie was led by Owens' 15 points. McGowan added 13 while Smith chipped in with 12.
This loss puts Dexter in the third place game against Portageville today at 6 p.m. while Bernie advances to the championship game against the Kennett Indians at 7:30 p.m.
DEXTER (53) -- Brandon Stoker 10, Ryan Windham 7, Gary Summers 3, Bryn Hester 4, Alan Flannigan 15, Jon Bowman 9, Taylor Jarrell 5. FG 19 FT 11-15 F 19. (3-pointers: Hester, Bowman 3. Fouled out: Windham.)
BERNIE (57) -- Cameron Shipman 9, Jake Welch 6, Quinton Stevens 2, Jake Owens 15, Jake Smith 12, Jordan McGowan 13. FG 19 FT 11-17 F 15. (3-pointers: Shipman 3, Owens 3, McGowan 2. Fouled out: Smith.)