(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
DEXTER -- To say the Dexter Lady Bearcats basketball team has been dominant the last 14 games is an understatement.
Since Dec. 8, the Lady Bearcats have won 14-straight games, winning by an average of 50 points, with their closest game a 26-point win over Kennett in the finals of the Lady Royals Holiday Classic in late December.
Meadow Heights changed all that on Tuesday night.
The Lady Panthers, ranked seventh in Class 2, shocked the Lady Bearcats, ranked fourth in Class 4, 71-56, handing Dexter just their third loss this season.
"It's a huge win for us," said Meadow Heights coach Mark Verticchio. "We executed very, very well. We made some mistakes but it was our best game of the year."
"Meadow Heights has a good team," Dexter coach Chad Allen said. "They're well coached. We came out tonight a little flat-footed and weren't aggressive."
Dexter fell behind early, struggling with the Meadow Heights full-court pressure and watched as the Lady Panthers jumped out to an 11-3 lead.
"I thought overall we just didn't play aggressive tonight," Allen said. "We looked a little timid and I know the girls can play better than this."
Meadow Heights built as much as a 32-20 lead in the second quarter before Lady Bearcats started mounting a comeback. As the Lady Panthers pulled off the full-court pressure, Dexter responded by cutting the lead to 34-31 at the break.
"We took off the press because Erin (Bollmann) got tired," Verticchio said. "We haven't had a game the last six or seven where Erin's had to go the full 32. Her and Whitney (Welker) and Taylor (Cureton) all had to go the full 32 and those three played well as did some other girls."
Dexter came out of the locker room and began getting the ball inside and baskets from Paige Patterson and Brittany Harris gave Dexter a 35-34 lead just over 30 seconds into the third quarter. But Meadow Heights, behind the play of Bollmann and Welker, pushed their lead back to 50-40 by the end of the frame.
Bollmann finished the game with 31 points and 17 rebounds while Welker ended with 22 points and six rebounds.
"Bollmann and the Welker girl are both seniors and have a lot of experience and it showed tonight," Allen said. "Both those girls took over and had excellent games for them."
As Bollmann and Welker continued to make big plays in the fourth quarter, Dexter failed to consistently get the ball inside, something that upset Allen.
"I thought our guards didn't get their heads up," Allen said. "They did a pretty good job of keeping us from getting the ball in the middle but a lot of times we just didn't get our head up and find the open man inside.
"I definitely thought we could have got it in there more but give (Meadow Heights) credit, they executed offensively and defensively tonight."
Dexter did close to within seven points 63-56 when Alison Jarrell drained a 3-pointer, one of the five on the night for the sophomore, with just under two minutes to play. But Taylor Cureton and Welker combined to score the next eight points of the game and Meadow Heights put a screeching halt to the Dexter winning streak.
"Erin had a really good ballgame," Verticchio said. "Taylor had her best game of the year because she ran the offense and had some big steals. Erin stepped up and hit some big shots.
"It was a team win and everybody contributed and played good defense."
Jarrell led Dexter (17-3) in scoring 17 points including 12 in the first quarter, all on 3-pointers. Harris scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds before fouling out with three minutes to play and Patterson finished with 10 points and seven rebounds as the Lady Bearcats were out-rebounded 34-30.
With the win, Meadow Heights improves to 15-3 on the season and the team has their sights set on a Class 2 quarterfinal appearance that will be played at the Bearcat Event Center.
"I told our team its a great win but to not let it define them," Verticchio said. "Our goal at the beginning of the season wasn't to beat Dexter. Dexter is a great team but we want to go (past) the quarterfinals. We have to take it one game at a time because anything can happen. We want to be back here on March 10 but it isn't going to come easy."
Dexter will be back in action on Thursday when they travel to Kelly to face the Lady Hawks who are on a five-game winning streak.
Notes: Both Allen and Harris were honored before the game for reaching milestones. Harris, a junior, scored her 1,000th point during a recent game against Portageville while Allen notched his 100th win as the Lady Bearcats' coach last evening... Dexter won the two-quarter junior varsity game 16-14.
MEADOW HEIGHTS (71) -- Caitlin Cook 4, Erin Bollmann 31, Kiana Hotop 2, Jessica Baremore 2, Whitney Welker 22, Taylor Cureton 8, Hayley Thorne 2. FG 28, FT 13-21, F 10. (3-pointers: Bollmann 1, Cureton 1. Fouled out: none).
DEXTER (56) -- Mollie Whitehead 8, Katelynn Frazier 3, Hannah Noe 4, Alison Jarrell 17, Erika Cobb 2, Brittany Harris 12, Paige Patterson 10. FG 21, FT 7-12, F 18. (3-pointers: Jarrell 5, Whitehead 2. Fouled out: Harris).