BANGOR — Three-pointers are flying and records are falling at the Bangor Auditorium..
Less than 24 hours after Washburn’s Mitchell Worcester dazzled tourney fans with his perimeter shooting display, Orono senior Jade Keezer took center stage Friday afternoon and, more importantly, took her Red Riots to a step they haven’t been since coach Jessica Libby’s senior year (1998).
Keezer established a Class C single-game 3-point record with eight en route to 28 points as the fourth-ranked Red Riots cruised to a 59-41 victory over No. 9 Dexter.
Keezer hit her first seven 3-pointers to eclipse the mark held by Holli Tapley of Calais and Nikki Allen of George Stevens Academy.
“In warmups I was kind of iffy or whatever, but once I started hitting a couple of 3’s, I knew that our team would pull through and that’s what we did.”
Orono (14-6) will take on No. 6 Washington Academy of East Machias in Monday’s 4:05 p.m. regional final.
Dexter, which shocked defending state champion Calais on Tuesday, finished 13-8.
Keezer’s perimeter barrage helped the Riots take a 17-4 lead after one quarter as she beat the buzzer with an NBA-range shot. Keezer broke the record with a shot from the right wing late in the second quarter, which gave Orono a 42-13 halftime lead.
Much of the credit to Keezer’s success went to Orono’s post players, who did a good job making extra passes to clear space for Keezer.
“She obviously shot really well in the first half. It’s a testament to our post players and guards finding her on the perimeter and also our forwards demanding respect inside,” said Libby, who helped lead Orono to the Class B state championship in 1998.
Dexter’s normally stingy defense was shaky in the first 16 minutes, which coach Jody Grant attributed to nerves and turnovers.
“I was worried about that happening the first game, us getting here and (having) the deer in the headlight look,” he said. “I think that happened tonight.”
Senior Morgan Dickey was Orono’s other double-figure scorer with 14 points, while Leya Bryant added nine and Jillian Woodward had 14 rebounds and three blocked shots.
The Riots’ 1-2-2 full-court press helped force 13 Dexter turnovers in the first half, and the Tigers couldn’t get anything going offensively.
“The first half just really got away from us, their pressure has bothered us both times we’ve played them,” Grant said. “We had too many defensive possessions in the first half.”
The Riots, who beat the Tigers twice during the regular season, didn’t have any special game plan, they simply executed their offense flawlessly.
“We definitely did, we passed really well through their defense,” Keezer said. “They play really great defense, so we practiced (the last) couple days to just work on reversing the ball and everything, and that’s how we beat them.”
Orono finished one perimeter shot shy of tying the 1997 Calais team’s mark of nine.
Senior Shelbee Lancaster led Dexter with 17 points, while classmate Callie Theodore added 11.