Dexter, ME-- The Dexter Tigers boys basketball team used a balance attack to pick up a huge heal point worthy 54-42 victory over the Stearns Minutemen at Guiski Gymnasium on Monday evening.
The Tigers jumped out to a 10-0 lead to start the game and the Minutemen never got closer than six points the rest of the way. The Tigers biggest lead was 43-27 late in the third quarter.
"It was very hard to recover. Give them (Dexter) credit. They played very well,"Stearns coach Greg Marter said. "We came out in man (defense) and had to switch it up. Our man defense was not the greatest tonight. They did a good job against our 1-3-1 as well."
Trevor Fogarty led a group of four players that finished in double figures for the Tigers. Fogarty filled up the stat sheet with 16 points, four assists and four steals. He also pulled down a team high eight rebounds from the guard position.
"You are always pumped to play but this was a really big game for us and we knew that,"Fogarty said. "We had not got a big win since Milo (January 7th) and we felt like we had something to prove."
Dylan Graffam grabbed six rebounds, Matt Crane and Casey Jordan pulled down four each. The Tigers out-rebounded Stearns 27-23.
"Dylan (Graffam) can not do it all so we need to have other people step up and get rebounds,"Fogarty said. "I think we did it tonight as a group effort."
Graffam finished with 15 points (7-11 FG), one assist and one block. Crane and Bailey Spack scored 10 points each.
"The idea was that we needed more people to get involved. Some kids stepped up tonight. Matt Crane had a good game," Tigers coach Peter Murray said. "Trevor (Fogarty) and Dylan (Graffam) are good solid players. They are going to give you what they give you every night."
Murray brought in sophomore guard Matt Bartlett when the Minutemen switched to a zone defense in the second quarter. Bartlett gave the Tigers another outside shooting threat and provided scrappy defense.
Bartlett hit a three pointer and had three assists in seven minutes.
"I have confidence in him (Bartlett). He knows if he is in there that (to shoot) is why. If you get a chance to put one up then put one up. We are not asking him to shoot 10 of them,"Murray said. "At the same time he is a pretty good defender. He is a scrappy little guy. He helps us in that way too."
The Tigers used great ball movement to record 14 assists on 18 field goals. Six different Dexter players had at least one assist.
"It is always important to have good ball movement. It creates open shots,"Fogarty said. "I think we did that pretty well today."
The Tigers were 2-3 in their last five games. They needed a win against a quality opponent to boost their confidence.
"We have not been playing as well as we were at the start of the season,"Crane said. "It is a good win for us .We needed it to boost our confidence."
The win against a Stearns team with 11 wins did not just boost the confidence for the Tigers, it also was a boost in the MPA class C heal point standings.
The Tigers jumped from eighth to fourth in the standings. The regular season finale for the Tigers will be Friday evening when they host Orono.
"We needed a win against a quality team. We beat Milo (Penquis) early in the year but they were without a player. We know that. Everybody knows that. We will take advantage of it,"Murray said. "At the same time we lost some close games to this team (Stearns) and to Bucksport. We lost to the other teams that were in the same area (in the standings) as us. We had to beat one of them."
The top five in the standings will miss the preliminary round and advance to the quarterfinals at the Bangor Auditorium. Seeds six through eight will host a prelim game.
"We are trying to get there. We are in the same boat as everyone else. We were in the 8th position before tonight. Now we have some more of a comfort zone. We will try and beat Orono on Friday and see what happens,"Murray said. "We might get lucky and land in the 5th spot. If not it will be a home prelim. We will need to beat someone to get there so bring on whoever they want to bring."
Fogarty added, "It is very big. It should move us up in the standings. Maybe if we get lucky we will not even need to play a prelim game."
Kyle McVey led the Minutemen with a game high 22 points and 10 rebounds. Seth Brown recorded seven points, five assists and three steals.
Riley Whitney added five points and five rebounds.Marc Morneault recorded four points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Lucas McLain chipped in with four points.
Stearns (11-6) will finish their regular season with a road game at Schenck on Wednesday. The Minutemen are currently eighth in the class C standings.