BANGOR, Maine – It was certainly an ugly victory, but Calais boys basketball coach Ed Leeman will take it and move on in the Eastern Maine Class C tournament.
Leeman’s second-ranked Blue Devils certainly made some sloppy mistakes Tuesday, but seventh-ranked Madawaska had no answers for Calais big man Cam Shorey, who dropped in 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to power the reigning state champs to a 61-42 win at the Bangor Auditorium.
Calais will face No. 3 Lee Academy, which beat No. 6 Penquis of Milo 50-42 in Tuesday morning’s opening game, in a semifinal game at 2:05 p.m. Friday.
In the second game, Madawaska struggled to contain Shorey, who scored 12 of his points in the first quarter as the Blue Devils raced to a 24-11 lead that was never threatened.
Leeman’s team had solid balance offensively, with Jeremy Carr scoring 17 points while Josh Gillespie had 12 to go with nine rebounds and five assists.
But Calais did commit 14 turnovers, which was somewhat understandable given the youth of its backcourt.
“We had nine kids today who had never really seen the Auditorium floor,” said Leeman. “We’re young, we’re going to make a lot of mistakes.”
The teams went back-and-forth in the early going, and were tied at 7 after the Owls’ Michael Cannan converted on a driving layup, but Shorey scored Calais’ next six points to jumpstart a quarter-ending 17-4 run.
The Blue Devils did make a few miscues after the Owls went to a 1-2-2 zone coming out of halftime, and Deejay Genreau’s 3-pointer from up top made it a 39-29 game, but Calais reeled off the next 10 points to dash any further hopes of a Madawaska comeback.
“They might have pushed up a little bit and we didn’t get it [back] to the high post like we should’ve,” said Leeman. “That’s because we don’t recognize what the defense is trying to do to us at times.”
Gendreau paced Madawaska with 16 points.
In the first game, Lee Academy used its strong inside game to overcome a strong outside game from Penquis of Milo en route to its win.
Youssou Ndoye, a 6-foot-9 junior center, led Lee with 13 points and 13 rebounds. His size made it hard for the Patriots to work inside, but they went 8-for-16 from 3-point range to keep things close. Penquis’ Justin Artus, who came off the bench, hit a 3-pointer at the end of the second quarter to tie the game at 21 apiece.
Lee Academy, however, forced five Penquis turnovers in the third quarter and Ndoye scored six points to counter the Patriots’ shooting and had a 9-point lead at the end of the period. Penquis continued to shoot well in the fourth, but couldn’t overcome the Pandas’ lead.
Ndoye also had five blocks.
“They’ve just got too much size for us to deal with,” said Penquis coach Tony Hamlin. “We wanted to front the big kid inside when he was on the post and then push him away from the ball. He didn’t hurt us much in the offense, but more on the offensive glass, and he’s intimidating inside.”
Lee and Penquis split in the regular season. Lee senior captain Ryan Beers, a 6-3 forward who had eight points, seven rebounds and two steals, said the Pandas didn’t want to let the Patriots heat up early in the game.
“We didn’t want them to come out on fire like they did when they made a whole bunch of shots early,” Beers said of the teams’ regular-season matchup in Milo. “We started pressing them [in Tuesday’s game], they made some mistakes and we kind of got on a roll.”
A.J. Harris added 13 points and Tony Esho had 12 for Lee.
Artus led Penquis with 16 points.
“If we played very well, I thought we had a shot to beat them in a close game,” Hamlin said. “I thought we played pretty well but offensively we went through stretches where we didn’t protect the ball, and we had empty possessions where we just didn’t have a shot.”