BANGOR, Maine — The Dexter High School girls basketball team isn’t going to wow opponents with slick ball handling, nifty dribble-penetration sequences and lots of 3-pointers.
Instead, the Tigers try to control the tempo of a game and execute their half-court offense, which features senior center Megan Peach.
Despite facing a formidable post duo from George Stevens Academy on Saturday night, Dexter was able to work its game plan well enough to take home a regional championship.
The fifth-seeded Tigers overcame 19 percent first-half shooting by connecting on 8 of 17 field-goal attempts after intermission while overcoming No. 2 GSA of Blue Hill 35-32 in the Class C North title game at the Cross Insurance Center.
Coach Jody Grant’s Tigers (16-6), who won the program’s first girls title since 2007, advances to play South winner Monmouth Academy (18-3) in next Saturday’s 7:05 p.m. state final in Bangor.
“I never thought that we would be here and I would feel this, but it’s honestly amazing,” said Dexter senior Kayli Cunningham.
In spite of their own offensive woes in the first half (4-for-21 shooting), the Tigers played tough player-to-player defense and held a 15-10 lead at intermission.
“Our zone was effective, but they were using a lot of time and we were getting hurried (on offense),” said GSA coach William Case. “We were shooting the first thing that come along. We had a lack of patience in the first half and their defense was offense.”
GSA implemented an extended 2-3 zone that was susceptible only to the 6-foot-2 Peach (10 first-half points), but the Eagles expended a lot of effort at the defensive end.
“We try to make teams guard us,” said Peach, a senior who finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots despite working against GSA post standout Morgan Dauk.
“We’re going to make you play defense until you make a mistake and a lot of teams don’t want to play defense for very long, so we prey on that,” Peach added.
Dexter finished with only 10 turnovers as guards Abby Webber (8 points), Kaitlyn Webber (4 points) and Ashley Reynolds ran the offense effectively.
“We were trying to share it with each other and make sure we got it into the best hands that we could,” said Abby Webber. “It got a little hectic at times, so we tried to re-collect and then find the best passing options.”
The Tigers had their hands full against Dauk, a versatile 6-footer who scored a game-high 21 points on 10-for-16 shooting, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked two shots. Cunningham tried to front Dauk and got help from Peach in the post.
“I’ve had a few [games] against girls that are my size, but she’s so talented,” Peach said of Dauk.
“I was pleased with our defense,” Grant said. “Dauk got going there a little bit at times and hit some shots, but I thought overall we defended, collectively, pretty well in stretches.”
Dexter led throughout and Peach provided a big lift early in the fourth quarter. She sandwiched two close-range baskets around a short jumper by GSA’s Mazie Smallidge (4 points, 10 rebounds), then answered an eight-footer from the lane by Dauk with a nifty spin move and left-handed layup that gave the Tigers a 30-22 lead with 5:48 to play.
“When we get to certain points in the game, we want to make sure that our post kids get a chance to touch it,” Grant said.
GSA hung tough and got within three points on Dauk’s putback with 18.6 seconds to play but, after a missed Dexter foul shot with 7.2 seconds remaining, the Eagles were unable to get off a last-second shot in time.
“We just tried to grind it out,” Grant said.