Winning three straight gold balls can do a great deal for a team’s collective confidence.
Even so, with some new faces in the lineup and players filling different roles, it’s a process to keep the streak alive.
George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill took the first serious step toward a possible fourth consecutive Class C state title on Tuesday morning with a 73-37 victory over Calais at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
Coach Dwayne Carter’s third-seeded Eagles (17-3) advance to face No. 2 Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln (16-3), a 47-37 winner over Dexter on Tuesday, in a 2:05 p.m. semifinal on Friday in Bangor.
The 11th-seeded Blue Devils wound up 7-13.
Some things haven’t changed for GSA, which helped force 25 Calais turnovers with a handful of defensive looks, but based in their relentless man-to-man.
“We had the game plan going in of just giving new looks and shut off all possible things and then switch to the next one before they could figure it out and I think it worked really well,” said senior Isaac Wardwell, who finished with 18 points and five rebounds.
The Blue Devils wound up shooting 25 percent (11-for-44) from the field.
The Eagles led 29-14, but seemed to finally get into better sync while taking care of the ball more effectively in the second half. GSA strung together a 9-0 burst early in the third quarter, with four different players scoring, to make it a 22-point lead.
“We started to relax a little more when the lead got up, but in the first half we played a little bit tight at first,” Wardwell said. “Seeing the open floor, instead of just going immediately [to the basket] is what we really needed to work on and over the course of the game we really stepped that up.”
Andrew Szwez led the Eagles with 21 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals and Percy Zentz contributed eight points and seven rebounds.
GSA shot 18-for-35 (51 percent) from the floor and committed just three turnovers after the break.
“You never know who’s going to be the top scorer in each game and that’s what’s great about our team,” Wardwell said.
Dawson Critchley tossed in 18 points and grabbed six boards to lead Calais, while J.D. Turner and Blake Collins each scored seven points. John Socabasin pulled down eight rebounds.
The Eagles led 29-14 at halftime despite 10 turnovers. GSA made five 3-pointers, including three by Szwez, and shot 40 percent overall.
Calais had difficulty finding any sort of offensive rhythm. The Blue Devils committed 16 turnovers and attempted only 11 field goals in the half.