AUGUSTA — Virtually all of the Calais’ girls basketball team’s postseason games have been filled with drama, and Saturday’s Class C state championship was no different.
With his team trailing by a point to Madison in the final minutes, Calais coach Dana Redding made a script revision, calling on sophomore guard Allison Hill, who entered with 1:33 remaining after a Bulldogs’ turnover.
A minute and a half and seven points later, Hill was cast into the role of hero.
She sprinted down the Augusta Civic Center court for a fast-break layup and made the subsequent free throw six seconds after coming in — she was 5-for-5 from the line down the stretch — as the Blue Devils won their first state title since 2001 with a 44-38 victory.
Hill was a bit apprehensive when she was called upon, but she didn’t show it on the court.
“I was very nervous, I didn’t want to screw things up for the team,” said Hill. “I was just like, thank God I made it.”
Ironically, the main reason Hill was inserted was for defensive purposes.
“She’s quicker defensively, so I thought she might be able to help us out,” said Redding, whose Blue Devils cap an outstanding tournament run 15-6. “She made some good foul shots.”
Calais entered the Eastern Maine tourney as the No. 6 seed and knocked off Woodland, Central of Corinth and Washington Academy of East Machias to get here.
Madison, making its second appearance in a state final in three years, finishes 17-5.
Calais hadn’t trailed in the second half before Andrea Smith canned a 3-pointer from the right corner to give Madison its first lead since the first quarter.
But the Blue Devils demonstrated the resolve that got them to this point, and Hill’s teammates had all the confidence in her.
“Allison, she is just outstanding,” said Calais senior Nicole Osborne. “She’s come through for us a lot of times and it’s just awesome.”
Madison had a chance to tie on its next possession, but Ali Russell missed a runner off the glass, and Hill hit her next four free throws to seal the win.
“Usually, she’s not that good a foul shooter,” Redding said.
But Hill got the job done, and Calais beat Madison at its own game — holding the Bulldogs without a field goal after Smith’s perimeter shot with 3 minutes to go.
“We had a great feeling [after Hill’s 3-point play] and everything just went our way from there,” said Osborne.
Osborne, a 6-foot-1 center, led the Blue Devils with 15 points and 12 rebounds — her fourth straight double-double — but she had plenty of help.
Brook Young went 3-for-6 from 3-point range and scored nine points. Rebecca Blake came off the bench to score seven while gathering eight boards and the 5-10 Blake providing Calais with another solid punch in the post, since Madison was throwing double- and triple-teams at Osborne.
Six of Blake’s points came in the second half, in which she started for Shannon Brown for defensive purposes.
Blake found herself open in the post frequently on high-low plays with the Bulldogs focusing on Osborne, who was also looking to make extra passes while seeking layups.
“We knew they were going to throw double or triple teams at me and we just found the open person,” Osborne said.
“She’s very tough, obviously we had to stop her or try to stop her,” said Madison coach Al Veneziano. “She’s a tough customer in there. I thought she was very effective, she did a great job.”
He also thought inserting Hill was a wise decision for Calais against the Bulldogs’ full-court press.
Calais led by as many as eight in the second quarter, opening the period on an 8-1 run highlighted by a follow-up basket by Osborne.
Madison lived up to its nickname, however, getting to within five by the break on a putback by Russell, who led her team with 14 points.
Bianca Stoutamyer’s perimeter shot from up top brought the Bulldogs back into a 23-23 tie midway through the third, but Young countered with a couple of long-range bombs of her own to restore the Blue Devils’ lead to six.
The championship was special for Osborne and Brown, who not only keyed Calais’ run to the Class C state softball championship last spring, but also have a state title in volleyball to their credit from last fall.
“It just feels amazing, we’ve worked so hard this year and coming in as the No. 6 seed, it’s just amazing,” Osborne said.
Stoutamyer and Smith had nine points apiece for Madison.