BANGOR, Maine — The team that has a dominating inside game to go along with solid perimeter shooting can go a long way. So it should come as no surprise that the George Stevens Academy girls are heading to the regional championship game.
Second-seeded George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill bested No. 3 Piscataquis of Guilford 50-29 in a Class C North semifinal at the Cross Insurance Center on Friday night.
The Eagles will play No. 5 Dexter on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. Dexter knocked off No. 1 Stearns 47-44 in the late game.
GSA’s Morgan Dauk led all players with 17 points, nine rebounds, two blocks and a steal. Emma Crosby added nine points and three rebounds, while Mazie Smallidge and Julianna Allen each had eight points. Smallidge also hauled in seven rebounds and blocked four shots.
For PCHS, Sara Almirante posted 11 points and four steals, while Erin Speed contributed eight points and four rebounds.
“This is really cool,” said Dauk. “We try to come into every game thinking of what goals we need to accomplish in order to win. We knew this was going to be a tough one for us so we had to play hard the whole time.”
GSA coach William Case said he hoped his squad would be able to contain PCHS’ top scoring threats, Speed and Almirante, and the Eagles were able to do precisely that — holding the duo to just six second-half points combined.
“I am so proud of our girls,” the coach said. “It’s a gift for us to be here this year. We were not anticipating getting here. But we kept improving and all our hard work in practice is paying off.”
Case figured he would probably see a “box-and-one” defense from PCHS, especially since the Pirates had great success with that defensive scheme during a Jan. 14 game at Guilford. PCHS won that game 45-41.
To prepare for that tactic, the coach did something a bit different. He used six and sometimes seven defenders from his bench against his starting five in practice. That strategy paid off as PCHS once again went to that defensive scheme, but the Eagles were ready for it.
“We wanted Morgan (Dauk) to be used to seeing a lot of people around her,” Case said. “I think it helped because we were much more poised on the floor tonight.”
Smallidge had an exceptional game on the interior, scoring the bulk of her points on offensive rebounds or short jumpers from inside the paint.
“I think our patience was the key for us tonight,” said Smallidge, a 5-foot-11 junior. “That can be a problem for us sometime, but tonight we have shown that we have improved a lot.”
PCHS coach Brian Shaw said he was proud of the effort the Pirates gave.
“This is one of the hardest working teams I have ever coached,” he said. “We knew we had to take away either the inside game or the outside game of GSA and tonight they had both working. They got so hot early and we just couldn’t keep up.”