BANGOR, Maine — Senior guard Meaghan Cavanaugh stole the ball at midcourt and raced in for the go-ahead layup with 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter Tuesday night as No. 1 Calais rallied for a dramatic 55-54 victory over No. 8 Narraguagus of Harrington in an Eastern Maine Class C girls basketball quarterfinal at the Bangor Auditorium.
The undefeated Blue Devils (19-0) will play No. 5 Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln in Friday’s semifinals. In a slight upset, the Lynx took care of the fourth-ranked Houlton Shiretowners 35-28 in the evening’s first game.
Narraguagus finishes with a 10-10 record — with four of the losses coming against Calais.
This was by far the closest of those matchups, with Narraguagus taking the lead late in the third quarter and building a margin of as many as nine points, first at 46-37 on a free throw by Anna Ramsey with 6:25 left in the game.
The Knights still led by nine at 52-43 with two minutes remaining, but Calais used its defensive pressure to force three late Narraguagus turnovers and the Knights made just 2 of 6 free throws in the final 1:37 of play.
A free throw by Karmen Kennedy gave Narraguagus a 54-48 lead with 1:18 remaining, but Calais’ Paige Gillespie scored on an offensive rebound with 46 seconds left to make it a four-point game.
A steal by the Blue Devils’ Kaylee Johnson set up a 3-pointer by teammate Olivia Smith with 25 seconds left to cut the Calais deficit to 54-53.
“Kaylee Johnson had a nice game at the end,” said Calais coach Dana Redding. “She made a lot of things happen, and that energy sparked us.”
Narraguagus then was able to get the ball into frontcourt along the left sideline, where Cavanaugh came up from the blind side for the steal and raced in for the layup to give Calais its first lead since 35-34.
“I saw the opportunity to double so I went up, and when I got the ball I thought I heard the whistle but I wasn’t sure so I just kept going,” said Cavanaugh. “You can’t really hear anything in here.”
Narraguagus advanced the ball into the frontcourt, but Calais point guard Madison McVicar stole the ball away as time expired to cap off the Blue Devils’ great escape.
McVicar, hounded throughout the evening by the Narraguagus defense, and Cavanaugh each finished with 12 points for Calais while Smith and Gillespie scored 10 points each.
“They did a good job of keeping the ball away from Maddie,” said Redding, “and when she can’t control things for us we’re not as good a team.”
Kelli Kennedy, a 5-foot-11-inch freshman, worked inside the Calais defense to score a game-high 24 points for Narraguagus — including 13 during the third quarter when the Knights took control.
Ramsay added 13 points and Caryl Ann Young scored nine for Narraguagus.
In the early game, missed free throws, layups and a number of turnovers led to Mattanawcook’s victory despite the Lynx shooting just 13-of-33 for the game.
“They were very nervous, even though they did have confidence and were ready to play,” Lynx coach Stephanie Dubay said.
Houlton couldn’t gain any offensive rhythm, shooting just 11-of-36 from the floor and 5-of-16 from the free-throw line.
“There was no offensive flow. You’ve got to credit their defense,” Houlton coach Shawn Graham said. “I don’t know what the numbers are, but our free throw shooting was abysmal.”
The Lynx had control of the game from the start, jumping out to a 13-6 lead after the first quarter. Senior forwards Taylor Blood and Ashley Libby combined for seven first-quarter points.
Houlton was able to take a chunk of the deficit away in the second quarter, holding the Lynx to just three points and one field goal. Yet, the Shiretowners were only able to score six points of their own to head into the break down 16-12.
Both teams scored 10 points in the third quarter before more defensive pressure by the Lynx shut down Houlton in the fourth quarter, which saw the Shiretowners score four points.
“We talked about defense and keying in on certain players,” Dubay said. “We got them in foul trouble and it makes a difference.”
Houlton had chances in the final quarter to keep the game close, but a couple crucial missed layups ended any hope.
“We missed some layups, we didn’t capitalize,” Graham said. “It’s a game of runs and we didn’t have that run.”