BANGOR, Maine — Courtney Hill was expecting the worst Tuesday night, even though she and the No. 1 Calais girls basketball team had defeated No. 8 Houlton by 22 and 25 points in two regular-season meetings.
“We were thinking they were going to be a tough team,” said the Blue Devils’ 5-foot-4 senior guard, “because freshman year we played Houlton and we beat them twice in the regular season just like this season and they beat us by one [in the tournament, so we came back for revenge.”
Calais got its revenge, but not easily as the Blue Devils had to withstand a 24-point outburst from Houlton’s Vanessa Sanderson for a 45-39 victory in an Eastern Maine Class C quarterfinal at the Bangor Auditorium.
The win sends coach Dana Redding’s club to a 3:35 p.m. semifinal Friday against No. 5 Washington Academy of East Machias. Those teams played two tight regular-season contests, with Calais winning 44-43 at home on Dec. 10 and then 55-48 in overtime on Jan. 6.
Calais (15-2) held a 26-18 halftime lead thanks to 10 points directly resulting from offensive rebounds.
Houlton (11-9) began the second half with an 8-0 run to forge a 26-26 tie on Sanderson’s 3-pointer with 4:58 left in the third period.
The patient Shiretowners took their only lead at 31-30 15 seconds into the fourth quarter when Sanderson drove for a three-point play.
That lasted just 12 seconds before Kelli Cross made two free throws and Hill scored on a steal and drive to give Calais a 34-31 lead.
The Blue Devils then built a 39-33 lead on five inside points by Osborne before Houlton mounted its final rally, getting within 41-39 on a jumper by Sanderson with 1:54 left.
Shannon Brown answered for Calais with a jumper, then the Blue Devils grabbed three straight offensive rebounds after missed free throws to keep the ball in their possession.
“I didn’t think they were going to slow it down the way they did,” said Redding. “When we played them before it was a faster pace, and when they slowed it down I didn’t know if we were quick enough to go chasing, and if we did I was afraid of the back door so we kind of hung back a little bit.”
Tessa Clark paced Calais with 10 points. Osborne had nine points and seven rebounds, while Cross had eight points and 10 boards.