(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
DEXTER -- Taking on eighth-seeded Bell City in the opening round of the Stoddard County Activities Association Tournament on Monday, top-seeded Dexter took a 19-point halftime lead before cruising to a 90-47 win.
"I expected us to have a better showing tonight," Bell City coach Nate Wills said. "But you have to give credit to Dexter. They shot the ball lights out tonight. They're very well coached and I thought that they looked pretty tough.
"I think they're a team that's definitely getting better and really right now we're just trying to work on some things. We're just making small mistakes that are adding up at the end of the ball game and we have to cut some of those mistakes down."
Shooting 9 of 16 from the floor in the first quarter, the Bearcats didn't take long in putting the Cubs in their rearview mirror as they opened the game on a 13-5 run.
Though Bell City regrouped to close to within six by the end of the quarter, Dexter outscored the Cubs 25-12 in the second frame to go ahead 45-26 entering the break.
Able to force nine turnovers in the second half alone, the Bearcats continued to pull away with a 29-point third quarter that included Dexter opening the frame on a 16-5 run in the first 3:34 of the frame.
Taking a pass from Brad Potts, Jake Lee connected from the paint to put the Beacrats up by 30, at 61-31, with 4:26 left in the quarter.
Ensuring a running clock all through the fourth, Dexter continued to build its lead until pushing ahead by as many as 43 points in the last few minutes of the final frame.
"We got tired and we're short ball handlers anyway," Wills said. "Their pressure really bothered us. They did a great job and switched up defenses on us. They went from zone to man and really pressured us and got us out of what we were trying to do.
"We didn't take advantage of their pressure. They really did a superb job of getting out, staying on top of us and not allowing us to dictate any kind of offensive rhythm."
While winning the turnovers battle 14-5, the Bearcats shot 36 of 62 (58 percent) from the floor on the night, while going 8 of 17 from 3-point range.
Featuring four double-digit scorers, Dexter was led by Tyler Miller's 21 points on 9 of 15 shooting. He also contributed six rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Close behind, Lee had 20 points, going 10 of 13 from the field) while grabbing 10 rebounds and five steals.
Potts had 15 points, five rebounds and three assists with Chase Young contributing 11 points and five assist to the Bearcats' cause.
For the Cubs, Jerad Yates finished with a team-high 17 points, including a pair of 3-pointers while going a perfect 5 of 5 at the free throw line.
Second on the team was McKenzie Vires with 11 points.
While acknowledging the strong play of Dexter, Wills credits a lull in his team's schedule the past three weeks, where the Cubs have only played one a game a week, in keeping his kids out of top game-shape.
"We only play seven kids," Wills said. "That's all we have on the team. Having one game a week, that really hurts us when we don't have much of a deep bench to rotate in and out of. Not to take anything away from Dexter.
"I don't think the reason we lost is because we've had this kind of sputter in our schedule, but I definitely think it affects our level of play. We could have at least competed a little bit better."
Dexter coach Rob Nichols was unavailable for comment.
Advancing to the semifinals, Dexter will player the winner of Tuesday's Bloomfield/Puxico on Thursday at 8:30 p.m.
In other varsity tournament action Monday, the third-seeded Bernie Mules defeated sixth-seeded Woodland 70-23.
David Baker and Matt Eaves had 16 and 14 points for the Mules respectively.
On the junior varsity side, fifth-seeded Dexter got 17 points from Austin Aldridge on their way to a 44-38 upset over fourth-seeded Woodland.
DEXTER (90) -- Chase Young 11, Tyler Miller 21, Jordan Fitts 3, D.J. Dowdy 3, Matthew Ridlen 2, Jonathan Page 8, Brad Potts 15, Jake Lee 20, Cody Neldon 7. FG 36, FT 10-14, F 12. (3-pointers: Young 2, Miller 2, Fitts 1, Dowdy 1, Potts 1, Neldon 1. Fouled out: none.)
BELL CITY (47) -- McKenzie Vires 11, Jerad Yates 17, Aaron Smith 5, Josh Overbey 6, Shane Hughes 8. FG 17, FT 10-13, F 10. (3-pointers: Yates 2, Smith 1. Fouled out: none.)