One Heil of a game
By David Jenkins ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
DEXTER -- For one half it seemed like Dexter junior Katelyn Heil and the rest of her Lady Bearcat teammates couldn't miss in Thursday night's 81-66 victory over Portageville.
Heil scored 23 first half points on her way to a career-high 42-point performance as Dexter, ranked No. 9 in Class 4, built a 48-26 halftime lead.
"They had a higher shooting percentage in that first half than Tom Brady did in this past post-season game," said Portageville coach Eric Ellerbrook, referencing the quarterback's 93 percentage clip. "They were on fire. They're good shooters and they're good players and it was just one of those things where you could just laugh because what else do you do?"
While the entire Dexter team seemingly couldn't miss, none stood out more than Heil who hit six 3-pointers on the night.
"I played well and I'm happy with what I did, but I couldn't have done it without the rest of the team," Heil said. "My teammates passed me the ball when I looked open and it worked out really well.
"She's just a good ballplayer," Ellerbrook said. "You can scheme and you can plot to try and stop a certain player, but when a player is on fire like she was you just admire and watch."
Heil also finished the game with 10 rebounds and was 8-for-9 from the free throw line.
"She's just an overall good player," said Dexter coach Chad Allen. "Not only does she score a lot of points, but she gets rebounds, she gets steals, she gets a lot of loose balls. She's a hard-nosed player."
Unfortunately for Portageville, which came into the game ranked No. 3 in Class 3, it wasn't a one-girl show.
Dexter raced out to a 9-2 lead to start the game, hitting four of their first five shots, and eventually grabbed a 22-14 advantage after one quarter. In the quarter, the Lady Bearcats only turned the ball over one time against the Portageville press.
"They handled the press well and when they broke the press, against our half-court defense, they moved the ball extremely well and took high percentage shots," Ellerbrook said.
Dexter continued to play well in the second quarter, only turning the ball over twice and extending their lead to 22 points.
"We knew Portageville was going to be tough so we just tried to come out and play our best and Katelyn obviously brought her 'A' game," said Dexter's Ashlee Taylor, who finished the game with 19 points. "We were mentally prepared. We knew Portageville was going to come out and give us a run for our money so we just had to get there first."
Dexter built their biggest lead at 58-34 but Portageville battled back and closed to within 70-57 with 6:30 minutes left to play.
"We went in at halftime and just discussed our heart as a team and just coming out and hustling and playing a better second half against a good, quality Dexter team," Ellerbrook said.
The Lady Bearcats never flinched after the Portageville run, going on an 8-0 run themselves to put the game away.
"The girls definitely kept their composure," Allen said. "(Portageville) made their run and then we made another run ourselves. I'm proud of the girls how they played today."
The Lady Bulldogs were led in scoring by senior Kellye Penn's 24 points, 16 of those coming in the second half. The Lady Bulldogs also got 15 points and 11 rebounds from Jeleea Drake while Courtney Chamberlain finished with 10 points.
Portageville (15-3) will be in action again next Thursday when they travel to Senath while Dexter (13-2) will play Incarnate Word (No. 8 in Class 5) on Saturday at the Notre Dame Shootout.
"I think (this game) gives us a confidence boost, especially with us playing Incarnate Word on Saturday," Heil said. "We still aren't putting a whole game together like we want to but we really played well tonight as a team."
Portageville defeated Dexter 40-25 in the junior varsity contest. Kaitlyn Nowlin led Portageville with 12 points while Britney Bedford led Dexter with eight points.