BANGOR, Maine — Calais High School needed barely 3½ minutes Saturday night to establish considerable confidence and a sizable lead.
The top-seeded Blue Devils shut out No. 2 Orono for nearly four minutes to open the game and scored 13 unanswered points to set the tone for a 49-30 victory in the Eastern Maine Class C girls basketball championship game at the Cross Insurance Center.
Coach Dana Redding’s top-seeded Calais team (19-2) claimed its second straight regional title and advances to Saturday’s 7:05 p.m. state championship game against Western Maine winner Carrabec of North Anson (18-4) at the Augusta Civic Center.
“It’s really amazing,” said Calais senior forward Kate Cundiff. “It feels so good, because we really wanted it this year worse than last year. It’s my senior year and everything. It just feels awesome.”
The Blue Devils prevailed in a rematch of the 2013 EM title game. They built this win around their defense.
Calais was able to bottle up the low post and contest Orono’s outside shooters with its player-to-player defense, holding coach Jessica Witham’s Red Riots (19-2) to 10-for-49 (20 percent) shooting.
Orono had difficulty establishing an inside game much of the contest.
“They take up a lot of space inside. They’re also very strong inside, so it’s kind of hard to get good position on them,” Witham said.
The Blue Devils’ frontcourt trio of seniors Cundiff, Paige Gillespie and Taylorae Carter combined for 21 points and 22 rebounds. Cundiff (2 steals) led the way with 12 points and six rebounds, Gillespie registered five points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots and Carter came off the bench to add four points and five boards.
Olivia Smith tallied five points and two steals and Mallory Black chipped in with three assists and a steal.
Orono outrebounded Calais 40-38.
“We know that they looked for their bigs a lot inside and they also looked for them up top to drive, so we knew we had to front them well so that they wouldn’t get it inside,” Gillespie said.
The only negative offensive statistic for Calais was its 9-for-18 free-throw shooting.
The Red Riots stumbled early, missing their first seven shots and committing five turnovers in the first 3 minutes, 23 seconds. The Blue Devils capitalized while scoring the first 13 points of the game.
Smith kicked it off with a 13-foot jumper, then Mallory Black made a steal and fed Maddy McVicar for a 3-pointer. McVicar (14 points, 5 assists) followed with a runner in transition after an Orono turnover and Gillespie made a layup off a Smith dish, before another turnover led to two McVicar foul shots.
“It gave us a lot more confidence going into the second half,” McVicar said. “We knew that we could rely on our defense and it would create some offense for us.”
Cundiff then came up with a steal and the Blue Devils cashed in with Kaylee Johnson’s rebound basket to take a 13-0 lead.
Hannah Clement (11 points) finally broke the ice for Orono with a 3-pointer at the 4:08 mark, but it would be another four minutes before the Red Riots would make another field goal.
Calais extended its advantage to 17 points in the second quarter and held a 24-12 lead at halftime, which was as close as Orono would get the rest of the way.
“We have six seniors, so we have a lot of experience up here in Bangor, but we’re not done yet,” Cundiff said.