BANGOR — The Dexter High School Tigers didn’t play like a ninth seed Tuesday night and, as a result, there will be a new state Class C schoolgirl basketball champion this season.
The Tigers parlayed stifling man-to-man defense and 18 second-half points from Lauren Crane and Callie Theodore into a 43-33 triumph over top seed and defending state champion Calais in their Eastern Maine quarterfinal at the Bangor Auditorium.
The Tigers held Calais to just one point over a span of 5:58 bridging the third and fourth quarters to transform a 22-19 deficit into a 30-23 lead.
Calais couldn’t get any close than five the rest of the way.
Dexter, now 13-7, will face Orono (13-6) in Friday’s 3:35 p.m. semifinal. Calais wound up 12-6.
“We played as a unit, defensively, and our help defense was always there,” said Crane, who had 10 second-half points after being held to one in the first half.
“Dexter is known for its defense,” said Theodore. “We work our butts off on defense in practice. That’s what coach (Jody) Grant is known for. We came through tonight.”
“We didn’t play well tonight,” said Calais coach Dana Redding. “We weren’t active. We were standing around. We weren’t moving.”
“Dexter played well,” added Redding. “They have some tough kids. They plugged the middle on us and we didn’t shoot well (from outside).”
Dexter also used its tenacity and superior quickness to outrebound the taller Blue Devils 18-15 in the second half.
Theodore triggered the decisive 11-1 rally by grabbing a pair of offensive rebounds and converting them into baskets.
Crane scored with a driving runner off the glass and capped the third quarter with a 3-pointer from the right side off a Jordyn Bell pass.
Rebecca Redding ended Calais’ scoring drought with a free throw to open the fourth quarter, but Bell fed Gabrielle Adam underneath for a basket to make it 30-23.
Dexter could have pulled away earlier, but sank just one of its first 10 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter.
Sarah Smith scored off a put-back with 6:15 remaining for Calais’ first basket in 5:58.
A Maicee Gustin free throw and another putback by Theodore made it 33-25, but Calais’ Allison Hill answered with a pair of free throws.
Dexter finally started making free throws and put the game away when Bell’s free throw was followed by four Crane foul shots to make it 38-27 with 1:32 remaining.
Shelbee Lancaster paced the Tigers with 12 points, 10 in the first half. She also had four steals. Crane had 11 points and Theodore had 10 with Theodore also contributing six rebounds and two steals and Crane chipping in with five rebounds and four steals. Bell had five points and three assists.
Dexter held Calais to 5-for-20 shooting in the second half and forced numerous turnovers.
Shannon Brown had 10 points for Calais, all in the first half, and she finished with a game-high 14 rebounds. Paige Gillespie added eight points and six rebounds. Redding had six points and three assists.