"We were really struggling for energy all night, Portageville probably was too," said Dexter coach Rob Nichols. "It wasn't a very pretty game from an offensive standpoint. A lot of missed layups by both teams. Everybody was kicking the ball around a little bit."
Dexter struggled for most of the game and hit their first field goal of the second half with 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The Bearcats trailed by as many as five points in the fourth. However Dexter put together one last run after a timeout.
"That last timeout we called, we went to a man-to-man and challenged the kids to hit shots and rebound and we did that for the most part," Nichols said. "I think that is what the game boiled down to."
One of the reasons for Dexter's surge in the fourth came from Gary Summers. The senior scored nine points in the fourth quarter, including a drive through the Portageville defense to give the Bearcats a 43-41 lead with just over three minutes remaining. Summers then hit a free throw to put the Bearcats ahead for good 46-45 and followed that up with a key rebound off a Portageville missed free throw on the next possession.
"That's what he is, a spark plug," Nichols said of Summers. "He was probably our sixth man last year. We brought him off the bench because he brings so much effort, so much energy. That's just the kind of kid he is. He does the little stuff a lot of people don't appreciate."
Leading 46-45, Dexter Alan Flannigan took over the game for the Bearcats, hitting two free throws and then drew a charging foul on Portageville's Fred Treadwell with 14 seconds remaining.
"That was big," Nichols said of the charging call. "We knew they were going to try and get stuff going to the basket there at the end and told everybody to shrink those gaps, slide over and somebody take a charge and Alan did just that."
Flannigan was then fouled on the offensive end and hit one of two free throws to seal the game.
"We're a process in the work right now." Portageville coach Jim Bidewell said. "It's going to take time. I was proud of our kids the way they responded. I was kind of concerned coming in after a loss last night how we would respond. I think our kids did pretty well.
"Our kids just have to get some practice and some games under our belt and some experience."
The game started out slow for both teams as Dexter held a 11-10 lead after one quarter, thanks in good part to Brandon Stoker's seven points. However, Portageville got a spark from freshman Dominique Walker in the second quarter and took a 27-26 lead at halftime. Walker scored seven points in the quarter.
"He's learning," Bidewell said of Walker. "He's got a lot of ability. He's a freshman and a lot of the aspects of the game he doesn't know yet, but he will."
Flannigan led Dexter (4-6) in scoring with 23 points and also pulled down a team-high seven rebounds. Stoker finished with 12 points.
Treadwell led Portageville (6-4) with 15 points, but free throw shooting may have doomed the Bulldogs as they finished 5 for 13.
"In close ball games you have to hit the free throws and we didn't," Bidewell said.
PORTAGEVILLE (45) -- Tevin Walker 2, Isaac Ray 4, Dominque Walker 7, Fred Treadwell 15, Fernando Minnis 5, Rondraus Booker 4, Jake Young 8. FG 20, FT 5-13, F 22. (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: Treadwell, Booker).
DEXTER (49) -- Brandon Stoker 12, Gary Summers 9, Bryn Hester 2, Alan Flannigan 23, Jon Bowman 3. FG 15, FT 14-23, F 17. (3-pointers: Flannigan 2, Stoker 1, Summers 1, Bowman 1. Fouled out: none).