By Matthew Bartow / WLD
The Dexter boys’ basketball team jumped out to a 6-0 lead on Friday night. The Dreadnaughts’ upset bid of defending state champion Lincoln was off to a promising start after forcing Lincoln sophomore sensation Emoni Bates into two early turnovers leading to a Lincoln time out.
But once Bates gets rolling there is little Dexter – or really any team in the state – can do about it. Bates, the nation’s top-ranked player in the 2022 class, finished with 40 points as Lincoln cruised to a 67-38 victory over Southeastern Conference foe Dexter. The loss was the Dreadnaughts’ first in conference this season (5-2, 3-1 SEC).
“Obviously, we know Lincoln’s a good team,” said Dexter head coach Jason Rushton. “We’ve got to grow from this; we’re going to talk about what it takes to compete against a team like this because I know we’re better than that. Lincoln’s a good team, but I also thought we did a lot to ourselves tonight.”
Rushton said the Dreadnaughts picked the wrong time to struggle on the offensive end. “We’ll bounce back and we’ll work to get better,” he said.
Bobby Pnacek (three triples in the game) and Marco Lucchesi (six points in the first quarter) both finished with 11 points. Colin Parachek had six points and Cal Bavineau scored four points.
Bates knocked down six triples in the first quarter and finished with a game-high 40 points. He was the only Lincoln player in double figures.
Dexter dominated the early minutes of the game. Colin Parachek scored the first basket of the game on a beautiful turn-around shot to give the Dreadnaughts a 2-0 lead. Dexter’s defense then forced Bates into a turnover, and Lucchesi converted a shot on the other end.
“I thought we came out pretty strong in that first quarter,” Rushton said. “We battled, got a little bit of a run; they called timeout, which got us excited a little bit.”
Lucchesi stole a Bates’ pass after the timeout, and sank a pull-up jumper to increase Dexter’s lead to 6-0 over the defending Class A state champions with 5:30 remaining in the first quarter.
Dexter’s lead would not last long, however, once Bates caught fire. After a three from Pnacek increased the Dreadnaughts’ lead to 9-4, Bates nailed his first three-pointer of the game, sending the Lincoln crowd into a frenzy.
After Bates tied the game at 9-9, Dexter reclaimed the lead as Bavineau made two foul shots to give the Dreads an 11-9 lead with 3:14 remaining in the first quarter. It turned out to be Dexter’s last lead of the night.
Lincoln went on a 14-3 run in the remaining minutes of the first quarter, highlighted by a three-pointer from Bates as time expired. The Railsplitters led 23-14 after the first quarter.
Lincoln’s run continued into the second quarter. Railsplitters’ center Tate MacKenzie and Bates combined for Lincoln’s 11 points in the quarter, and Parachek, who was tasked with guarding Bates for most of the game, picked up his third foul midway through the second quarter.
Dexter’s defense was able to hold Lincoln scoreless for the final 5 minutes of the first half, forcing three Lincoln turnovers. Dexter scored five points during this stretch, with a bucket each from Aidan Dexter and Kellen Porter, cutting Lincoln’s lead to 34-24 at halftime.
Bates led all players with 26 points in the first half.
The Railsplitters scored the first eight points of the third quarter, extending its lead to 42-24. Dexter’s inability to rebound the basketball proved costly. Seven of Lincoln’s eight points during this stretch resulted from offensive rebounds.
Dexter did not go away. The Dreadnaughts cut Lincoln’s lead back to 10 with an 8-0 run of its own late in the third quarter. Pnacek drained two three pointers during the run, and Lucchesi scored the other two points.
Dexter’s comeback did not last long. Lincoln effectively sealed the game in the final 30 seconds of the third quarter that saw it force two Dexter turnovers and convert them into four quick points, including a monstrous dunk from forward DeCorion Temple.
Lincoln led 50-34 at the end of the quarter.
Lincoln continued to increase its lead at the start of the fourth quarter, as Temple stole a Dexter pass and lobbed a pass up in the air that was thrown down by Bates for a highlight-reel dunk. The Railsplitters outscored Dexter 17-4 in the final quarter.
Dexter must regroup quickly, as it faces Rochester on Sunday at Bishop Foley High School. The game will tip off at 4 p.m.