Girls Basketball: Dexter’s finish line located at the state finals

Most basketball teams have to guard against taller teams or faster teams or complex zone defenses or a long list of other on-court issues. But the biggest hurdle facing the Dexter girls’ basketball team as the calendar dribbles into February and the second half of the season is complacency.

The Dreads are very, very talented with depth, experience and enough talent where the finish line is firmly located at the state finals. They are routinely blowing out weaker opponents and even rival Chelsea was no match for a team that can run up the score on the offensive end and lock you down defensively.

That formula has resulted in many lopsided scores on their way to an impressive 12-1 overall record following Friday night’s convincing 46-30 win over Ann Arbor Pioneer. The Dreads also won the Northville Holiday Tournament title.

Complacency, however, shouldn’t be a problem with the Dreads’ outstanding senior leadership and a coach who simply won’t allow this team to lose focus. There is just too much on the line – both in opportunity and what’s at stake – for this team to start taking things for granted.

“We have great team chemistry and that’s why we’ve been so successful,” Dexter coach Mike Bavineau said. “This group of seniors have played together for a long time and that continuity and familiarity on the basketball court has been a big advantage for us.”

Bavineau, an experienced and successful coach who knows how to put players in position to succeed, says his team has put themselves in position to be successful in all of their games. And they need to maintain that focus moving forward.

“We talk all the time in practice about working hard and competing hard to get better every day,” he said. “Our saying is, ‘win the day.’ If we can get better every day it will only lead to better things down the road for us. We understand who is waiting at the end of our schedule and we need to be ready to compete against those teams. But we also know how to prepare to be ready for that moment. Our eyes are on that prize.”

Dexter’s strength is its strength in numbers.

You can’t have Taylor Olsen without Shelbea James. Sammi Corcoran and Cayla Schlaff are equal parts awesome but rely on Amanda Fileccia, Anna Love and Hannah Wing. And so on up and down this talented roster.

And while there are names in the scorebook it’s the name on the front of the jersey that matters the most to this team. You see, a dreadnaught might be a boat but the Dexter girls’ basketball team is a machine in which all the parts make it not only run but roar.

“We are getting ourselves geared up for Districts and we are in that stretch run now,” Bavineau said. “We have to keep pushing and stay healthy, which is very important.”

What’s waiting down the road is a short trip for the Dreads – Ann Arbor Huron. It’s no secret. And no one is afraid to mention the River Rats as one of the big goals the Dreads are preparing to conquer.

Everything the Dreads do is with one eye on Huron, the team that knocked them out of Districts a year ago. Both schools have had talented teams over the past several years with some classic matchups on the hardwood.

So, the Dreads keep preparing, getting better and “winning the day.” All with Huron in the microscope.

“One area we need to continue improving on is how we handle the pressure when defenses come after us,” Bavineau said. “We need to make quality decisions with the ball especially when faced with pressure. Anytime you feel pressure or are put in an uncomfortable situation you revert to what you feel most comfortable with. We have to fight that. Because what you are most comfortable with, they know.

“For example, other teams know that if they pressure us our player will go to her right hand because that’s what she’s comfortable with so they are going to try and take that away. We have to go with what we think is the best way to get out of that situation.”

The Dreads lost their first game of the year to talented Toledo Catholic Central but have since rattled off 12 straight. “They were good but I think we rolled in there expecting certain things and got punched in the face,” Bavineau said. “You always like to open with a win but that might have been the best thing for us looking back. It got us to refocus and not just expect to win.”

Dexter does have games on the schedule that should provide some tougher competition and give the Dreads a chance to play in more competitive situations and feel that pressure Bavineau is talking about.

This Tuesday they host a talented Manchester team before hosting Saline on Feb. 5. On Feb. 9, the Dreads head down to Bedford, which is always a tough place to play. Senior Night is Feb. 16 against Skyline and then comes the rematch Feb. 26 at Chelsea for the regular-season finale.

“We have to go through Chelsea to finish the season,” Bavineau said. “We have Manchester coming up and they are very good. Ypsilanti is playing much better and we have to face them again.”

They also have a date with Ann Arbor Huron waiting down the road. But there are plenty of days to win before that game. And the more days they win the more likely they will win on that day.

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