DEXTER — Monday was a day the Dexter and Notre Dame girls basketball teams had to learn how to compete without key players.
Dexter, ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 4, played without forward Abbie Warren due to an injury, while Notre Dame was without senior guard Emily Brumitt due to illness.
The Bearcats also had to work around foul trouble for senior forward Ashlee Taylor, but in the end, Dexter's defense made Notre Dame live without any offense from junior standout center Jane Morrill.
Dexter pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 49-35 victory in part by holding Morrill scoreless in the second half.
The Bearcats (19-0) remained the only unbeaten team in the SEMO Conference. They play Thursday against Central and Monday at Poplar Bluff to close out conference play.
Notre Dame (17-6) suffered its first conference loss and its fourth loss to a state-ranked Class 4 team this season. Its two other losses came against Class 5 schools from St. Louis. The Bulldogs may get another shot at Dexter, with both teams at full strength, in the District 1 tournament later this year.
"We need to get some more perimeter shots off," Notre Dame coach Renee Peters said. "I thought we handled them on the inside pretty well, but Jane missed a lot of shots. Obviously we have to work on finishing those shots."
Morrill, the SEMO Conference co-player of the year last year with Dexter's Katelyn Heil, had two baskets in the first two minutes and one other in the opening period, but she was held to one field goal in the second quarter and nothing in the second half.
"I thought we did a great job defensively, especially that second half," Dexter coach Chad Allen said. "I attribute that to Ashlee and Katelyn doing a great job on Jane. I think she got tired and they wore her down in the end."
"For us, all our games we win with defense," Heil said. "My goal was to be physical with [Morrill], be strong, don't let her go where she wants, bump her and make her go around me. Don't let her get comfortable in there, don't let her get anything easy, and I think we accomplished that tonight."
The Bulldogs had their best offensive stretch early in forging a 12-12 tie six minutes into the game, but they fell behind 16-12 after Dexter scored consecutive baskets late in the first period. The Bulldogs never took the lead after that, but they still trailed only 37-30 heading into the final period, when Dexter really wore down the Bulldogs.
The Bearcats opened the fourth quarter by turning two steals into four points, and — after an exchange of multiple missed shots — Dexter ran a patient offensive set that led to Heil driving to the basket and passing to freshman Lauren Ward on the baseline for a reverse layup. Dexter increased its lead to 46-30 before Notre Dame scored its first points of the period — a layup by Allyson Bradshaw with just 3:19 to play.
Bradshaw, a sophomore, had Notre Dame's only other points in the period with a 3-pointer, but that came with less than a minute to play. She finished with 17 points and had three of Notre Dame's four 3-pointers.
Dexter had two players in double figures and four with eight or more points, while three players hit 3-pointers in the first half. Katelyn Heil scored 16 points, including three 3-pointers; twin sister Cathryn Heil had 14. Jill Temples scored nine, and Taylor scored eight.
"Their perimeter shooting was just on fire tonight," Morrill said. "We were hitting the boards, but they would just come in flying and get the ball."
Dexter 49, Notre Dame 35
Notre Dame (35) — Alex Fowler 5, Allyson Bradshaw 17, Jane Morrill 8, Meghan Dohogne 4, Brooke Bohnert 1. FG 15, FT 1-3, F 11. (3-pointers: Bradshaw 3, Fowler 1. Fouled out: none)
Dexter (49) — Lauren Ward 2, Katelyn Heil 16, Jill Temples 9, Ashlee Taylor 8, Cathryn Heil 14. FG 19, FT 6-9, F 10. (3-pointers: K. Heil 3, Temples 1, Taylor 1. Fouled out: none)