(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Dexter's season slipped away in the fourth quarter.
Fredericktown outscored Dexter 16-6 in the final quarter and knocked the fourth seeded Bearcats out of the Class 4, District 1 tournament in the first round on Monday at the Sikeston Field House.
"I don't feel like we played really well," Dexter head coach Rob Nichols said. "I didn't feel like our mental focus was there and it kind of made us look like we played lethargic all night."
Dexter senior Jake Lee scored a game high 20 points to pace just four Bearcats who managed to contribute. Tyler Miller added 14, Jordan Fitts scored 10 and Brad Potts had six to round out all of Dexter's scorers.
The threat of 6-8 senior Brock Mills and 6-6 junior Nick Oertel under the basket was enough to draw Dexter's attention inside leaving room for senior guard Keith Jackson.
"It was a good scrap game," Fredericktown head coach Eric Thompson said. "But, I think our size is what helped us in the end. Dexter's a good team. I feel very fortunate to advance."
Jackson led Fredericktown with 19 points, including three 3-pointers. Mills, despite being closely watched, added 16 points and cleaned up around the glass.
"(Mills) hurt us on the glass a little bit and scored at times, but, really I don't think their size hurt us as bad as turnovers and missed layups," Nichols said. "We just didn't play very well offensively."
The Bearcats led 44-38 going into the fourth quarter. An offensive stick back by Mills, and back to back 3-pointers from Jackson gave Fredericktown (18-9) their first lead since the second quarter at the 4:09 mark.
With 3:04 to go, Dexter's Tyler Miller finally hit a shot after they went nearly seven minutes spanning from the third quarter without a field goal.
"Our size helped us, definitely," Fredericktown head coach "Our post defense got a whole lot better in the second half and I think that was the key. That opened some things up for our guards."
With less than a minute to go, the Blackcats found themselves up by two points. They doubled that lead when they found Mills streaking to the basket on an inbounds play to give Fredericktown a 52-48 advantage.
Two free throws by Jordan Fitts with 35.6 remaining pulled Dexter back to within two. But on their next possession, the Bearcats committed their sixth turnover in transition during the fourth quarter.
Dexter committed seven turnovers in the fourth period and 15 overall. They also shot 8 of 16 from the free throw line.
"I know we turned it over three straight times in transition and never got shots," Nichols said. "They got back in it right there. Just turnovers, a lot of missed layups and we didn't shoot the ball from the free throw line well -- offensively we just played poor."
After a missed free throw by Fredericktown's Justin Sawyer with 10 seconds left, Dexter had a chance to either tie or take a lead. Fitts raced up the floor and launched a 3-pointer that found nothing but air.
Dexter immediately fouled Sawyer with two seconds remaining. He hit both free throws, which sealed the upset for the Blackcats.
"I think our energy was better in the fourth quarter," Thompson said. "When Jackson hit those three's, that was a big boost for us. The kids got happy and when you get happy things start happening for you."
The two teams were not separated by more than seven points the entire way through. Dexter held the biggest advantage in the third quarter following a 3-pointer by Miller giving the Bearcats a 38-31 lead with 2:36 left.
There were 13 lead changes between the two as well.
Lee did his best to battle the bigs of Fredericktown scoring 10 points in the first half. The two were tied at 12 at the end of the first quarter and Dexter held a slim 28-25 lead heading into halftime.
Fredericktown moves on to play top seeded Notre Dame on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
The Bearcats end the year with a 13-13 record.
"We've been inconsistent," Nichols said. "A lot of it was just mental focus. When you play lethargically a lot of times it's just how you prepare mentally."
During the additional first round game, third-seeded Perryville took care of Ste. Genevieve, the sixth seed, 74-59 at the Sikeston Field House.
Perryville will take on No. 2 Sikeston on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the semifinals.
FREDERICKTOWN (54) -- Keith Jackson 19, Nick Oertel 4, Jake Korokis 1, Justin Sawyer 8, Tanner Ward 6, Brock Mills 16. FG 22 FT 7-15 F 12 (3-pointers: Jackson 3. Fouled out: none.)
DEXTER (50) -- Tyler Miller 14, Jordan Fitts 10, Brad Potts 6, Lake Lee 20 FG 19 FT 8-16 F 16 (3-pointers: Miller 2, Fitts 2. Fouled out: none.)