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Dexter stuns West Lincoln

Dexter’s Bulldogs made basketball shock waves across theMagnolia State Friday night. Playing perhaps their best game of theseason, the Bulldogs shocked previously unbeaten West Lincoln 77-71in the semifinals of the South State 1A Tournament in Jack CaseGymnasium.

Dexter (22-5) advanced to Saturday night’s title game againstDurant, an 89-64 winner over East Oktibbeha. Most importantly,Dexter and Durant advance to the State 1A Tournament in Jackson’sMississippi Coliseum.

Durant defeated Dexter 77-62 in Saturday’s title game.

The loss derailed West Lincoln’s dreams of a perfect season anda state championship as the Bears suffered their first setback in29 games. Encouraged by a large, near-capacity crowd, thehome-standing Bears nearly erased a 21-point fourth quarterdeficit. They were down 65-44 with 5:17 left in the game.

“Nobody gave us a plug nickel chance against them,” said Dextercoach Steven Fortenberry. “In my 18 years as coach, there have beena lot of big games between Dexter and West Lincoln.”

The Bears reduced their deficit to 5 points, 73-68, on a putbackby center Lucas Burris with 32 seconds left to play but Dexter’sRon Harvey sank a two free throws and Clifford Fernandez added apair with 2.8 seconds left to answer a trey by De Price.

Dexter had won a wild, 84-81 decision over McAdams in Thursday’squarterfinals. The Bears had eliminated South Leake 62-49 the samenight.

“Dexter shot the ball well tonight,” said West Lincoln coachLane Young. “Both teams left it all on the floor. The balls didn’tbounce our way and we just didn’t get it done. We played hard andhad a great year.”

West Lincoln was seeking its first state tournament appearancesince 1996. The Lady Bears went last year.

Dexter, the No. 1 seed out of Region 8-1A, tossed in 8 treysagainst the Bears. Marcus Holmes, a 5-foot-4 junior guard stretchedthe nets for 4 treys and finished with 14 points.

Ron Harvey, a 6-3 junior center, accounted for 21 points. ChrisCooley, a 5-10 senior guard, added 12 points.

Dexter took an 18-16, first-quarter lead and expanded the marginto 9 points, 41-32 at halftime.

“Give credit to the Case boys,” said Fortenberry. “I knew theywere going to make a run at us. This was a great win for us.”

Fortenberry coached the Bulldogs to the 2001 state title whenthey finished third in the South. They were runners-up in 2002.

The Bears got a game-high 25 points from senior guard Jay Case.He fouled out with 10 seconds left in the game.

Sophomore guard Jared Case chipped in 16 points, 5 assists and 3steals. De Price scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter.Burris finished with 10 points and 8 rebounds. Calvin Kees grabbed9 rebounds.

Durant 89, E. Oktibbeha 64

Tevin Marzett scored 21 points and Cody James 13 to lead Durantpast the Titans.

Casey Neal netted 22 points and Devonte Lucious added 15 forEast Oktibbeha.