BANGOR, Maine — With her George Stevens Academy Eagles leading by just two points heading to the fourth quarter Wednesday, a light bulb instantly went off in Morgan Dauk’s head.
It was the senior center’s time to take over, and she did it in a big way.
Dauk scored 11 of her game-high 31 points over the final eight minutes as coach Bill Case’s second-ranked Eagles pulled away for a 49-40 Class C North quarterfinal victory over No. 7 Calais at the Cross Insurance Center.
Dauk, who had never played in the Cross Center, was as cool as a cucumber in helping the 17-2 Eagles earn a 7:05 p.m. Friday semifinal date with third-ranked Piscataquis of Guilford.
“I would say so,” said Dauk, who also hauled down 13 rebounds. “I felt pretty calm. I was just like, OK, let’s get ahead.”
Calais ends the season 14-6.
George Stevens was playing in its first tournament game since the program’s 2009 Class C regional championship, and the nerves showed at times against the quick, tenacious Blue Devils.
“We had trouble handling the ball, they were very, very quick,” Case said.
It was all George Stevens early on as Dauk scored 10 first-quarter points in helping the Eagles build a 17-9 lead.
But the Blue Devils bore down defensively and steadily chipped away before halftime and came out even stronger in the third quarter, with a Lauran Cook perimeter shot and layup and Olivia Huckins driving shot getting Calais even (32-32) late in the third.
With Calais trailing by a bucket entering the fourth, a one-handed runner by Tianna Bacon allowed the Blue Devils to re-tie it, but Dauk scored the game’s next six points and the Blue Devils were held to two field goals over the game’s final seven minutes.
A Dauk follow-up basket off a missed free throw with just over three minutes to play proved to be the backbreaker.
Calais’ quickness on defense forced the Eagles into rushed passes at times, in particular when they tried to get Dauk the ball inside.
“We were trying to force it a little bit,” Case said. “We weren’t throwing it quite high enough.”
Tourney nerves were a factor in that as well.
“I think we’ll be fine now,” Case said. “We’ve been one game short the last three years.”
Once the game wore on, Dauk started handling the ball in the backcourt more, and the Devils had a difficult time matching up with her.
Handling the ball is nothing new for Dauk, who sees the floor well and has a good first step toward the basket.
“More so than in the past, but I can always go out a little bit and do that especially since I’ve had a lot of box-and-one’s,” Dauk said of opponents’ defensive tactics.
Eight of Dauk’s rebounds came on the offensive end, and she also had four steals.
Cook paced Calais with 13 points.