BANGOR, Maine — The Calais Blue Devils put their pressing defense and running offense into high gear Saturday night and gained an Eastern Maine Class C girls basketball regional title in the process.
Sophomore guard Maddy McVicar scored 15 points and senior guard Meagan Cavanaugh posted 14 as the top-seeded Blue Devils defeated the No. 3 Red Riots 63-54 at the Bangor Auditorium.
Undefeated Calais (21-0) will play Waynflete of Portland for the Class C girls state title Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at the Bangor Auditorium. Waynflete topped Madison 63-41 in Saturday night’s Western Maine final at the Augusta Civic Center.
McVicar set the tone right off the bat, firing up a shot within seconds of Calais controlling the opening tip. She missed, but junior center Paige Gillespie grabbed the rebound and scored, and the teams were off and running.
“We came out strong,” said McVicar. “We knew we had to push the ball and play good defense on their post players.”
The Orono post players, 6-foot starters Jillian Woodward at center and Katie Sypher at forward plus 6-foot reserve forward Abby Weigang and 5-10 starting forward Katie Smith, gave the Red Riots the edge in height.
“We knew they were big,” said Calais coach Dana Redding, whose Blue Devils didn’t play Orono this year, “but you’ve got to rebound to run.”
So the Blue Devils decided to challenge them rather than avoid them.
“We know we have to go strong [inside] and get the hoop or get fouled,” said McVicar, a nifty dribbler who specializes in high-tempo play and driving into the lane.
The Red Riots’ plan was to stop that or slow her down.
“Unfortunately, we missed some assignments,” said Orono coach Jessica Witham.
It was a back-and-forth game until a Cavanaugh 3-pointer put the Blue Devils up for good midway through the first quarter.
“We were in fight-back mode against a very good team,” Witham said.
Calais gradually increased its lead to its widest at 16 points with 4:36 left in the third quarter.
Orono started pressuring McVicar, the Calais playmaker, more in the second half. It began to pay off a bit, and the Riots started to chip away at the lead.
“We were forced to pressure them at the end,” said Witham. “They [her Red Riots] stepped up to the challenge and fought to the end,” said Witham.
Center Woodward, Orono’s only senior, worked her spin move well on the low right block a few times to keep the Red Riots going, but Orono was never able to string together a long run to get back into contention.
They could never get closer than seven points, though — the final time at 55-48 with 1:21 remaining.
“Our defense won it,” said Redding. “We played in their face, and the pressure led to turnovers and we were able to run.”
Calais got six of eight free throws and a Sierra Young basket to offset Orono’s last six points.
“We missed a few free throws,” said Redding, whose team was 14-for-21 from the line. “We made some, enough to win.”
Sophomore guard Olivia Smith added eight points for Calais, and junior forward Taylorae Carter and Gillespie had seven each.
Woodward and junior guard Elea Kass sparked the Orono offense with 15 points apiece, and sophomore forward Katie Sypher posted 10.
In the Western Maine final at Augusta, Martha Veroneau poured in 26 points to lead Waynflete by Madison.
She sparked a pivotal 23-12 scoring surge in the second quarter for Waynflete when she scored 11 points.
Rhiannon Jackson chipped in with 11 points for Waynflete, which improved to 19-3, while Helen Gray-Bauer and Leigh Fernandez each put in eight.
Cristie Vicneire paced 18-3 Madison with 15 points and Samantha Bruce added nine.