Dexter thwarts Neelyville’s comeback to claim Lady Royals Christmas Classic title
BROSELEY, Mo. -- The Bearcats kept their grip on the Lady Royals Christmas Classic title Friday night, fending off one run after another by Neelyville.
Dexter scored the final eight points of the third quarter after its double-digit lead shrank to a single point to beat the Tigers 66-58 at Twin Rivers High School.
The Bearcats claimed their third straight Classic title and ninth in 13 years.
“It’s a big deal to go out my senior year and get that last win (here),” said Dexter’s Hannah Thurmon, who sank a pair of well-timed 3-pointers.
“It’s an awesome feeling.”
Meeting in the final for a fifth straight season, the Tigers and Bearcats produced a nearly perfect copy of last year when Dexter won 67-58.
The Bearcats (10-2) advanced to this final with ease -- winning by an average of 53.3 points -- and built an 11-point lead in a little over nine minutes Friday.
Neelyville (8-4) rallied in the second quarter to get within a bucket only to fall behind by double digits at the start of the second half.
Again the Tigers rallied, rattling off eight straight points.
“They made a huge run and just to make that stop and make a run ourselves right back at them,” Dexter coach Chad Allen said. “Basketball is a game of runs, we know Neelyville is going to make a run at us, it’s just a matter of getting a stop and trying to turn it around in our favor. I thought we did a good job of stopping the bleeding.”
Thurmon sank a 3-pointer after Neelyville got within a point midway through the third quarter. Lexi Liau answered with a 3 of her own for the Tigers, who didn’t score over the next three minutes.
Chaylea Mosby, who scored a game-high 27 points, got a putback off a missed 3 and scored after Neelyville missed from long range on its end. Keirstan Keirsey’s putback put Dexter up 50-43 while Thurmon later capped the run with a bucket off an inbound pass in the closing seconds of the quarter.
“That was devastating,” said Neelyville coach Becky Hale of Dexter’s 3-point shooting. “They had about three or four 3s in a row. That’s 12 points. Difference in the ballgame.”
Mosby sank half of Dexter’s eight 3-pointers as the Bearcats were 8 of 20 from long range. Thurmon sank two of her three triples during the final half of the second quarter, including one after Neelyville’s 9-0 run cut Dexter’s lead to 26-23.
Thurmon’s 3-pointers started and ended a 10-4 run into halftime for the Bearcats who led 36-27 at the break.
“You can push it down to the third quarter or fourth quarter but every possession counts,” Hale said. “We slacked off a little bit and we paid for it.”
Neelyville, which won its previous three games by an average of 36.7 points, jumped ahead 4-2 on a 3-pointer by Jentri Worley. The junior scored five of the first six points by the Tigers but didn’t score again until early in the fourth quarter and finished with 10 points and as many rebounds.
Autumn Dodd led Neelyville with 20 points while J’Kayla Fowler had a double-double with 15 points. Liau added 11 points, sinking a trio of 3-pointers in the second half.
“I think we got some open looks, they just didn’t fall,” Hale said of a 33-percent shooting performance in the second half.
“We didn’t block out well enough to get a putback.”
The teams were nearly even in rebounds but Dexter finished plus-7 in second chance points. Rylee Allen led the Bearcats with 12 rebounds while junior Keirstan Keirsey had eight points and six rebounds off the bench.
“We definitely rebounded down the stretch,” Coach Allen said. “I thought Keirstan Keirsey really did a good job. She pulled down some huge rebounds and she played well for us late.”
Maycie Martin scored 14 points for Dexter, which surged ahead for good late in the first quarter.
Mosby’s 3 at the 3:03 mark put the Bearcats up 7-6.
Dodd was fouled attempting a 3-pointer and sank 2 of 3 foul shots to cut Dexter’s lead to a point. The Tigers missed a chance to jump ahead and Mosby hit a 3 from the corner, then set up Martin on a fastbreak. Natalie Sitze kissed her 3-point shot off the glass for a 19-10 Dexter lead but Neelyville’s Mackenzie Hobbs scored just before the first-quarter buzzer.
Both teams pushed the tempo early with Coach Allen urging “lets go” before the ball was even out of the net when Neelyville scored.
“I thought we could wear them down but they were getting so many easy baskets against us,” Coach Allen said. “They just killed us that first half. It seemed like every time we turned around we were giving up a layup.”
Said Thurmon, “We just really had to get and go. We knew that we would wear them down and that’s what we had to do to win.”
But the Tigers didn’t tire.
“We try to do the same thing,” Hale said of pushing the tempo. “It’s one of those things where it wasn’t just one or two things, it was a whole lot of things -- not blocking out, rebounding good enough, guarding the 3 well enough -- and it just adds up.”
Neelyville never got closer than seven in the fourth quarter as the Bearcats answered a Tigers basket four of seven times. Dexter also gave up just three points off turnovers in the final 12 minutes.
“We talked about it all morning long during the shootaround -- they thrive off turnovers,” Coach Allen said. “Hannah Thurmon does such a great job for us up top because see over the press. And of course Natalie Sitze, she doesn’t have the size Hannah does, but she’s got the grit and determination.”
Sitze, Thurmon and Mosby were named to the all-tournament team for Dexter while Worley, Fowler and Dodd were also honored.
Dexter extended its winning streak in the Classic to 12 straight and 24 of its last 25 tournament games. The Bearcats only loss over the past six tournaments was the 2014 final to Neelyville.
The teams will meet again Jan. 11 at Dexter.
“Watching the other games before today I thought we could make conditioning a factor,” Coach Allen said. “But I’ll tell you what, they battled and battled hard tonight.”
No. 1 Dexter 66, No. 2 Neelyville 58
Neelyville 12 15 16 15 - 58
Dexter 19 17 16 14 -6
NEELYVILLE -- Worley 4(2) 0-0 10. Hobbs 1 0-0 2. Fowler 5 5-8 15. Liau 4(3) 0-0 11. Dodd 8(2) 23- 20. Harlow 0. Tutor 0. Totals: 22(7) 7-11 58.
DEXTER -- Martin 6 2-2 14. Allen 1 0-0 2. Werneck 0. Thurmon 4(3) 0-1 11. Mosby 11(4) 1-3 27. Sitze 1(1) 1-2 4. Keirsey 3 2-4 8. McBride 0. Totals: 26(8) 6-12 66.
Note: Box score show total field goals with 3-pointers in ( ), followed by free-throws made and attempted, and total points.
2017 Dexter 66, Neelyville 58
2016 Dexter 67, Neelyville 58
2015 Dexter 63, Neelyville 42
2014 Neelyville 72, Dexter 57
2013 Dexter 71, Neelyville 32
2012 Dexter 69, Kennett 58
2011 Neelyville 64, Kennett 58
2010 N’ville 72, Twin Rivers 51
2009 Dexter 68, Naylor 52
2008 Dexter 64, Naylor 52
2007 Dexter 67, Kelly 49
2006 Doniphan 57, Dexter 40
2005 Dexter 63, Doniphan 31
2004 Twin Rivers 66,
2003 Twin Rivers 66, Kelly 57
2002 Sikeston 50, Senath-
2002 Doniphan 70, Twin Rivers 66
2001 Doniphan 64, Kennett 45
2000 Doniphan 70,
New Madrid County
1999 Doniphan 51, New
1998 Doniphan 71,
East Carter 55
*Note in 2002 the tournament featured two divisions.