(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
DEXTER -- The last time the Notre Dame and Dexter girls met, it took a strong fourth quarter effort for the Lady Bulldogs to pull out a win against the Lady Bearcats.
Notre Dame made sure it wouldn't take that long to put the game away Friday night, as they used a big first half on the way to a 65-31 district championship win over Dexter.
From the start, Dexter was unable to shake the tenacious Lady Bulldog defense. The Lady Bearcats committed 14 turnovers in the first eight minutes alone, and were held scoreless throughout the entire quarter.
Notre Dame was able to put together a solid quarter offensively, and finished with a 16-0 lead after one quarter of play.
"They definitely did a great job of pressuring us," Dexter head coach Chad Allen said. "That made the difference in the game, especially early on getting that big lead. Finally, when we settled down I thought we played with them pretty good. Just that first quarter being down 16-0 is hard to come back from."
Notre Dame's defense continued to attack in the second quarter, forcing more turnovers and scoring easy transition baskets. Dexter committed 21 turnovers in the first half to Notre Dame's seven.
The Lady Bearcats were finally able to get on the board at the 6:50 mark with a layup from freshman Brittany Harris. The bucket marked the end of a scoreless stretch of over nine minutes for Dexter, and the end of a 21-0 Notre Dame run.
The Lady Bearcats were able to get an offensive rhythm going in the quarter, posting 15 points, which was their highest total of any quarter. Unfortunately for Dexter, the Lady Bulldogs also picked up the pace on offense.
Notre Dame netted 23 second quarter points, including three 3-pointers, to extend their lead to 24 points at halftime, 39-15.
Despite scoring a respectable 13 points in the third quarter, Dexter was once again unable to match the offensive output of the Lady Bulldogs, who scored 22.
The final quarter was a quick one. With a running clock and few fouls committed, there were only seven points scored in the frame.
Dexter was led by senior Abbie Warren, who finished with 12 points and nine rebounds in her final high school game.
"With [Abbie] being our only player back that had any experience, basically, on varsity we rode her back a lot this year," said Allen. "Her leadership, not only on the court but off of the court has been unbelievable. I thought a lot of the success we had this year was because of her. She really helped push these young girls and made them a lot better. We just have to be thankful for that."
Warren was the only Lady Bearcat to reach double figures in the contest.
Notre Dame's offense featured a balanced attack. Three Lady Bulldog starters reached double figures, including Allyson Bradshaw, who had a game-high 17 points to go along with 6 steals. Jane Morrill added 16 points while Meghan Dohogne netted 12 in addition to nine rebounds.
"We know we've got to spread the ball around and have balanced scoring," said Notre Dame coach Renee Peters. "Otherwise people are just going to double down on Jane Morrill most of the time, and they've done that this year. Our girls are not worried about individual scoring or individual stats. It's whatever it's going to take to win a basketball game. They're a great group of kids."
"Notre Dame is an unbelievable team," Allen said. "They have the majority of their players back from last year and it's tough coming into this district championship being so young against a ball club like that. They showed how good they are tonight."
Dexter will return all but two players next season, including four starters.
Friday night's win marks Notre Dame's first district title since 2007. Dexter won back-to-back titles in '08 and '09, including a win over Notre Dame in last year's district final.
The Lady Bulldogs will face Farmington in the sectionals on Wednesday at Mineral Area Community College in Park Hills. Farmington won the only other matchup between the two teams this season, 53-50 at Notre Dame.
DEXTER (31) -- Shelbie Hessling 7, Brittany Harris 9, Erika Mouser 3, Abbie Warren 12. FG 12 FT 6-10 F 6. (3-pointers: Hessling 1. Fouled out: none.)
NOTRE DAME (65) -- Katherine Blasiney 6, Allyson Bradshaw 17, Jane Morrill 16, Brooke Bohnert 8, Meghan Dohogne 12, Summer Burger 6. FG 28 FT 5-10 F 12. (3-pointers: Blasiney 1, Bradshaw 3. Fouled out: none.)