BANGOR, Maine — There are few secrets in a state championship basketball game.
Teams have each other well scouted, with game video from the regional tournaments as well as reports from friends in the coaching fraternity or first-hand trips by confident coaches to watch potential opponents.
But Saturday night’s Class C boys final featured the revelation of a game-changing secret — why Cal Shorey wears uniform No. 3.
Though he rarely displayed it during the season, the Blue Devils’ 6-foot-4 senior center showed a soft and accurate touch from beyond the 3-point arc that was the offensive difference as Calais outlasted Dirigo of Dixfield 40-39 to claim its third state title in the last four years.
Shorey made four of his five 3-point attempts, including the winner with 17 seconds left.
“Cal’s a great player,” said Dirigo coach Gavin Kane. “I’ve seen him play for four years now and he’s a tremendous shooter, but I can’t honestly tell you that I felt he would have knocked four down from the 3-point line against us. That’s a credit to him.”
That Shorey spent much of his night on the perimeter was a tactical move by Calais to lure 6-foot-9 Dirigo center Thomas Knight away from the basket to prevent him from dominating the inside play.
“Our offense usually has me down low, so I haven’t even been taking that many 3-pointers, maybe one or two every five games,” said Shorey. “We were trying to bring Tom outside, and if Tom didn’t come out, coach [Ed Leeman] gave me the green light.
Shorey tried to attack the Dirigo big man inside early, hoping to get Knight into foul trouble. What he got instead were some Division I-quality blocked shots back at him from the Notre Dame-bound standout.
“It was a little frustrating being the undersized guy, I’m not usually that guy,” said Shorey. “But Tom plays great defense. He’s really tall and really long, and he makes it tough.”
So Shorey adapted and went outside beyond Knight’s willingness to guard him, hitting two 3-pointers — the second from NBA range — in the first quarter to stake Calais to an early lead.
“I think he made one all year,” said Leeman. “He can shoot it, we just don’t use him out there because he’s 6-foot-4. He gets mad at me, but for us he needs to be inside.
“But in this game Cal needed to be outside to pull the big guy away from the hoop and make him chase.”
Shorey spent most of his energy on the defensive end guarding Knight, and while Knight scored a game-high 20 points he made just 33 percent of his field-goal tries.
Shorey, meanwhile, shot 80 percent from beyond the arc, the only miss coming on a hurried 3-pointer with 44 seconds left in the game and Calais trailing 39-37.
“I got a little upset on that one,” said Shorey, who finished with 16 points. “I forced it and it wasn’t a good shot, it wasn’t in the flow of things. I wanted to take over, and it was just a bad move on my part. Luckily, I got another chance.”
That chance came 27 seconds later, after Dirigo’s Tyler Gates missed the front end of a one-and-one and Calais’ Jordan Leeman grabbed the rebound.
The Blue Devils worked the ball into the frontcourt, and eventually to Leeman in the right corner. He passed the ball back outside to Shorey — and this time he relaxed as much as one could amid such circumstances and launched a perfectly arched 3-pointer that had state championship written all over it.
One last three for No. 3 —three state titles, that is.