(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
FARMINGTON -- Although Miller Career Academy was late to the party, it's the Dexter Lady Bearcats who are going home early.
Dexter struggled against a mighty Miller team that was led by sophomore Zhanesha Dickerson's 21 points on Saturday during the Class 4 quarterfinal losing 51-34.
The Lady Phoenix (22-5) advance to play Republic in the semifinals on Friday at Mizzou Arena.
This is the second contest between the two this season. Miller took the first game 50-33 during the Farmington Tournament in December.
"I thought we played really well defensively," Dexter head coach Chad Allen said. "We battled hard. Offensively, we really didn't get things going. You've got to give credit to Miller. Miller definitely played some extremely good defense."
The quarterfinal contest was delayed 30 minutes due to Miller's bus not showing up to their school on schedule.
The late start time went hand in hand with the way each team struggled in the first quarter.
Combining to shoot 5 of 25 in the first frame, Dexter led a defensive-minded first quarter by a slim 6-5 margin. The Lady Bearcats were forced into four turnovers and shot 3 of 9. Miller went 2 of 16.
"Usually, with everybody we defend full court man to man," Miller head coach Darrin White said. "I know we played Dexter the last time and it went kind of went the same way."
Dexter, who prefers to get out and run and score most of their points in transition after forcing turnovers, could not tap into their bread and butter. A strong and composed Miller squad managed to beat Dexter's press on most occasions only coughing up four turnovers in the first half.
"I could tell they like to run," White said. "But, I don't think they were really capable of running with my girls. They have a great team, no doubt. I love playing them. I think the first time we played them really helped us out today."
Miller began to pick up speed in the second quarter behind Dickerson's five points -- all on free throws. They shot 50 percent (5 of 10) from the floor and outscored Dexter 16-8.
"She's a very good jump shooter," Allen said of Dickerson. "There's not a lot of great jump shooters in basketball anymore like there were back in the day. She's an excellent jump shot shooter and she'll take you off the dribble, pull up and knock them down.
"She had an excellent game tonight."
The Lady Bearcats continued their woes shooting from the floor going 2 of 8. They finished the first half 5 of 17 (29 percent) and down 21-14.
Back to back baskets from Dexter's Paige Patterson and Brittany Harris, who led Dexter with 12 points, to start the second half cut Miller's lead to three. An 8-2 run by the Lady Phoenix, however, put Miller ahead by nine.
Although Hannah Noe sank a 3-pointer to make it a 29-23 game, Miller ended the third quarter with a small 6-2 run giving them a 35-25 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Two free throws by Harris and a 3-pointer by Erika Cobb cut Miller's lead to seven within the first two minutes of the last frame. But, Dickerson, who scored 14 points in the second half, closed out the game notching six straight points handing the Lady Phoenix a 13-point lead with 4:13 left to play.
"She's kind of funny," White said of Dickerson. "I usually have to coach her through every move whether it's a shot or a move. Tonight, it looked like she found her way as far as when to attack the basket."
The Lady Bearcats managed just two field goals during the last quarter and four points in the last six minutes.
"We talked about their physicality. They're real physical," Allen said. "I thought our girls, for the most part, played really aggressive and physical along with them. I think we got wore down there a little bit toward the end because of it."
The Lady Bearcats finished shooting 32 percent while Miller shot 44 percent.
Dexter will return every player next season. They end their season with a 24-5 record.
"These girls had a great year," Allen said. "We made it one step further than we did last year. We've got everybody back. I know these girls. They definitely want to go to the final four. I definitely feel like they'll get in there and get the work done."
MILLER (51) -- Amanda Scott 7, Tiani Walls 2, Abrelyn Rackley 4, Braennan Farrar 5, Shanity James 12, Zhanesha Dickerson 21. FG 20 FT 11-12 F 17 (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: none.)
DEXTER (34) -- Katelyn Frazier 4, Alison Jarrell 2, Hannah Noe 7, Erika Cobb 5, Brittany Harris 12, Paige Patterson 4. FG 10 FT 12-15 F 12 (3-pointers: Noe 1, Cobb 1. Fouled out: none.)