BANGOR, Maine — Most of the faces have changed, but the commitment to defense that has propelled the Calais boys basketball team to three consecutive Eastern Maine Class C champions seems still intact.
The second-seeded Blue Devils harassed Sumner of East Sullivan into 27 percent shooting from the field Tuesday afternoon and cruised to a 51-29 victory over the Tigers in a regional quarterfinal at the Bangor Auditorium.
“It always starts with defense with us,” said Calais senior guard Jordan Leeman, one of the elder statesmen of the Blue Devils’ title runs. “It’s always defense first, then rebounding, and on offense we do what we do.”
The victory advances coach Ed Leeman’s club to a 7:05 p.m. semifinal Friday against No. 6 Lee Academy, which got a strong defensive effort of its own from senior guard Dean MacDonald to subdue No. 3 Schenck of East Millinocket 68-56.
MacDonald was tasked with containing high-scoring Schenck guard Aaron Hutchins, who had torched the Pandas’ defense for 43 and 24 points during the Wolverines’ two regular-season victories over Lee.
But with a tournament future at stake MacDonald limited Hutchins to 10 points on 4-of-20 shooting from the field, including 2 of 14 from beyond the 3-point arc.
“When [Hutchins] didn’t have the ball, I tried to keep it that way and make it hard for him to get the ball back,” said MacDonald, who also scored 11 points. “If he doesn’t have the ball, he can’t score points, so I just tried to stay in his face and disrupt any flow that he could possibly get into.”
Lee (13-7) also battled Schenck evenly on the backboards despite being without 6-foot-7 sophomore center Grant Sun, who suffered a knee injury during the Pandas’ preliminary-round win over Piscataquis of Guilford last week.
Lee finished with a 42-40 rebounding edge in the fast-paced game, and also focused offensively on working the ball inside with junior forward Tyler Doty and sophomore guard A.J. Harris among the Pandas’ chief interior weapons.
Harris, the son of Pandas’ head coach Randy Harris, was effective both near the basket and out on the perimeter while totaling 22 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. His three-point drive to the basket with 5:27 left in the first quarter giving the Pandas the lead for good at 7-4.
Doty added 17 points — 14 in the second half as Lee built a double-digit lead — to go with 15 rebounds, while Ryan Beers ably replaced Sun with nine points and nine rebounds.
“They weren’t as deep as we are, so we wanted to pound it inside and get them in foul trouble,” said coach Harris. “That’s exactly what happened.”
Terry McCafferty led 14-5 Schenck with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Josh Brown had nine points and nine rebounds. Jared Waite also scored nine points for coach Steve LeVasseur’s club.
In the second game, Calais’ defense never let Sumner get untracked, as the Blue Devils built an 18-7 first-quarter lead and then broke the game open by holding the Tigers without a point for the final 6 minutes, 23 seconds of the third quarter while extending a 25-13 halftime lead to 38-15 entering the final period.
“We wanted to work really hard, overplay and not allow any easy baskets, and just play real up-in-their-face defense,” said Calais senior center Cal Shorey, who had eight points, 13 rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots.
Much of the Blue Devils’ offense came on quick strikes after grabbing defensive rebounds, with junior guard Jeremy Carr the chief beneficiary. Carr scored off the opening tip of the game to give Calais the lead, and finished the afternoon with a game-high 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field.
“If we have a chance for a quick basket, we want to get it whenever we can,” said Shorey, whose long outlet passes triggered several of Carr’s baskets. “We’re an unselfish team, so if someone’s up the floor, we get them the ball.”
Jordan Leeman added 10 points and five assists for 14-4 Calais, while Josh Gillespie came off the bench to contribute seven rebounds.
Dan Leighton led 13-7 Sumner with eight points and six rebounds.