BANGOR, Maine — The sixth-ranked Calais Blue Devils made believers out of many over the course of the Eastern Maine Class C girls basketball tournament, knocking out two teams — Woodland and Central — pegged by some as state-championship favorites.
With one more standing in Calais’ path Saturday night in longtime tournament nemesis Washington Academy of East Machias, the Blue Devils stuck to the winning recipe that got them here — clutch foul shooting, offensive patience and tough defense. The result was their first regional crown since 2002 with a 55-48 victory over the Raiders at the Bangor Auditorium.
The 14-6 Blue Devils will play for their first gold ball since 2001 Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center against Western Maine champion Madison, which beat Waynflete of Portland 37-23.
It looked as though the clock might strike midnight on this Cinderella story, as the Raiders jumped out to a six-point, first-quarter lead, thanks to consecutive 3-pointers from Bre Nicely and Christy Smith.
But Calais coach Dana Redding called a quick timeout, changed from a triangle-and-two to a man-to-man defense, and the Raiders hit only two perimeter shots the rest of the game.
“We knew they were going to have a high percentage from the 3-point line, so we just needed to start getting out on them,” said Blue Devils’ senior point guard Alex McVicar, who led all scorers with 21 points, including a 3-for-5 effort from 3-point range and 12-for-15 at the foul line.
Calais closed the opening period on a 9-0 run, capped by an off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer by Rebecca Redding, the coach’s niece, to give the Blue Devils a 15-12 lead they would only lose once over the course of the contest.
Calais made it clear that it wasn’t the same team the Raiders had beaten by double-digits twice in the regular season.
“That was a good shot, it really threw the momentum our way coming into the next quarter,” said McVicar.
Classmate Nicole Osborne continued her monster tournament, posting her third double-double in as many games with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
She finished regional tournament play with 56 points, an average clip of 18.6 per contest.
“Osborne, she just had a tremendous tournament. We couldn’t handle her inside tonight,” said Washington Academy coach Gary Wood, whose Raiders wind up 16-5.
The Raiders were sagging on Osborne in the paint, throwing two and even three defenders at her. But when she wasn’t burning WA on layups, she was finding McVicar, Redding and Shannon Brown for open looks.
“We can shoot, and that’s what I say, we can go in to Nicole, but we’ve got shooters,” said coach Redding.
Calais led 30-27 at halftime, and the Raiders tied it at 32 early in the third period before the Blue Devils scored seven of the period’s final nine points, five of which came from McVicar.
“I was on today. I don’t know, it was just a good day,” said McVicar.
Calais opened a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter, keyed by Osborne’s conventional three-point play, and when the final buzzer sounded, McVicar leaped into Osborne’s arms and the celebration was on.
“We were the underdogs and we just pulled it out,” said Osborne, who pointed at Calais’ foul shooting as a big reason for the victory.
“We practice foul shots, I think we do like 40-60 a day at practice, and we go out there and run if we miss, so that motivates us more to make them,” said Osborne.
Calais was 17-for-26 at the line.
Taylor Seeley’s 14 points led the Raiders while Nicely and Smith had 10 apiece.