The Dexter Tigers play a tenacious, cohesive brand of player-to-player defense.
As evidence, if the team had not scored a single point in the second half on Wednesday morning, the second-seeded Tigers still would have won the game.
Coach Jody Grant’s team built a 17-point halftime lead behind its aggressive defense, shutting down No. 7 Fort Fairfield to earn a 47-25 Class C North girls basketball quarterfinal victory at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
The 16-3 Dexter ballclub awaits a semifinal matchup against No. 6 Calais (19-1), which beat Madawaska 74-42 on Wednesday morning. That semifinal is set for 8:35 p.m. on Friday.
Fort Fairfield finished the season at 15-5.
Dexter started strong, limiting Fort Fairfield to 4-for-13 shooting while forcing many of Fort’s 12 first-half turnovers. That effort, coupled with a patient and effective offensive effort, meant the outcome was really never in doubt.
The keys to Dexter’s defense are simple, according to sophomore guard Peyton Grant, the daughter of coach Grant.
“[The keys are] to keep up the intensity and to always work as hard as we can — and to push each other,” said Grant, who hit four 3-pointers in the first half en route to a game-best 23 points to provide the offensive spark for Dexter.
“If one person messes up, we have each other’s back to help them so we don’t let easy shots go in the basket,” Peyton Grant added. “We’re small, so we just have to work hard on defense.”
Sophomore guard Avery Herrick chipped in with 12 points and a game-high nine rebounds and Cheyenne Beem added six points and five boards for the winners, who encountered some second-half shooting woes.
Dexter committed only eight turnovers, four of which came in the final eight minutes after the game had been decided.
Freshman guard Camryn Ala paced coach Larry Gardner’s Fort Fairfield squad with 11 points. Fort received five points each from Riley Clough (4 rebounds) and Amber Sherwood and Cammi King-Demerchant grabbed six rebounds.
Dexter pulled in front with a 9-0 surge in the first quarter. Beem opened the run with a basket from underneath off a Cummings pass, then Avery Herrick made an open 16-footer off a feed from Grant.
Grant followed by knocking down a 3-pointer and Herrick scored from the lane off a Cummings assist as Dexter grabbed a 12-4 lead with 1:03 left in the period. The lead was 25-8 at halftime and 43-17 after three.
“We just try to make it difficult,” coach Grant said. “The kids work really hard. If you can get kids to work hard on defense, that’s probably more than half the battle.”