(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
ESSEX -- After grinding through a rough start to the regular season that featured five-straight losses, the Dexter Bearcats entered Friday's game against Richland still searching for their first win of the season.
Aided by a solid effort behind the arc that produced 21 points and a defense that forced 34 turnovers, the Bearcats were able to build a 33-point halftime before cruising to a 78-31 final.
"It's starts to weigh on them a little bit," Dexter head coach Rob Nichols said of the streak. "At the same time they have to look at who they played. Jackson was a winnable game for us, but we just couldn't get it done.
"Our first game I thought we played pretty well against Charleston, then Sikeston just handed it to us. (This win) is good for confidence, that's for sure."
Holding the Rebels (1-5) scoreless for the first 6:33 minutes of the game, the Bearcats (1-5) came out hitting their first shot of the game, a 3-pointer from Tyler Miller, before going on a 15-0 run that left Dexter up 18-4 by the end of the quarter.
Scoring 17-straight to start the half, Dexter was able to take a 30-point lead midway through the second when D.J. Dowdy connected from the top of the arc for the Bearcats' fifth 3-pointer of the night.
By the end of the second quarter, Dexter had scored a game-high 29 points in the frame to take a 47-14 advantage going into the break.
"The main thing we wanted to do is make sure we got out to a good start and just play well," Nichols said. "Not worry about anything but ourselves, just get off to a good start and play well."
Coming out of the break, the Bearcats were able to pick up where they left off, scoring 12 of their first 15 points of the half.
In finishing the third quarter with an 11-2 run in the final 3:30 minutes to go up 73-21, Dexter was play to play out a turbo-clocked fourth for the win.
"We kind of got overwhelmed," Richland head coach David Reynolds said. "Anytime you're young and as inexperienced as we are you get overwhelmed pretty easy. With a team like Dexter it doesn't take long for it to get out of hand."
Utilizing the press much of the first half, Dexter's three-quarter dominance came with the help of a defensive effort that forced 34 turnovers on the game to Richland's nine.
"We haven't really pressed much this year so we just wanted to look at it tonight and see if we were going to be able to be a team that pressed," Nichols said. "The first few games we played predominantly man to man. So we were just kind of looking at it. We haven't worked on it a whole lot."
Leading Dexter's effort, Chase Young and Miller both had a game high 17-points, including 12 and 13 points in the first half respectively. Dowdy contributed nine points to the Bearcats' cause while Jordan Fitts had seven.
As a team, Dexter had seven 3-pointers on the contest, led by Young with three while Miller and Dowdy had two each.
"We hadn't really shot a lot of 3-pointers in the first few games," Nichols said. "As small as we are that's something we're going to have to do and get better at as the year goes on.
"We have some guys that can shoot it, but you have to take those shots to make them and we haven't taken a lot at this point."
For Richland, Jesse Barnes had a team-high eight points, followed by Skylar Harper and Richard Forshee with seven and six respectively.
Dexter will be back in action on Tuesday when they travel to Scott City. Richland will be off until Dec. 26 when they take on Kennett at 9 a.m. in the first round of the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament.
DEXTER (78) -- Chase Young 17, Tyler Miller 17, Jordan Fitts 7, Bailey Hampton 2, D.J. Dowdy 9, Matt Aidlen 1, Brad Potts 6, Jake Lee 6, Tyler Wilson 2. FG 28, FT 15-27, F 22. (3-pointers: Young 3, Miller 2, Dowdy 2. Fouled out: none.)
RICHLAND (31) -- Skyler Harper 7, Nich Daniels 5, Jesse Barnes 8, Marcus Grayson 3, Richard Forshee 6, Adam Lane 2. FG 10, FT 10-18, F 22. (3-pointers: Harper 1. Fouled out: Barnes.)