Avery Herrick knew it was a matter of time before Peyton Grant would start knocking down some shots on Friday night.
In the meantime, the relentless sophomore put the Dexter girls basketball team on her back.
Herrick scored six points and grabbed three rebounds in the third quarter to spearhead a Dexter comeback as the Tigers rallied from a 10-point deficit to register a 49-39 Class C semifinal victory over Calais at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
“I knew they were going to guard Peyton heavy, so I had to do what I had to do,” Herrick said.
“I had confidence the whole time. I said, ‘we can do this,’ even though we were down 10 at one time.”
Coach Jody Grant’s second-seeded Tigers (17-3) advance to Saturday’s 7:05 p.m. regional championship game against the winner of Friday’s late game between No. 4 Penobscot Valley of Howland and No. 9 Stearns of Millinocket.
Dexter also reached the regional final last year after winning the title in 2017.
The sixth-seeded Blue Devils finish at 19-2.
Herrick performed well at both ends while spearheading Dexter’s comeback. She finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds.
“She made it tough on us. She got to spots we didn’t want her to get to,” said Calais coach Bill McVicar.
Grant finally got back in the offensive groove after shooting 2-for-17 over the first three quarters. The sophomore connected for 16 in the fourth quarter, including going 8-for-8 from the foul line.
“I told her when the fourth quarter started, I said this is the time now, don’t worry about all the shots you’ve missed,” Jody Grant said. “Try to keep going and hit a few coming down the stretch. I was just pleased with her composure.”
Calais raced out of the locker room at halftime and scored seven unanswered points, including five by Lauren Cook, to extend their lead to 24-14 with less than two minutes gone in the third quarter.
That’s when Herrick and senior Kaylee Deering stepped up for the Tigers and helped them slice the deficit to 33-27 with eight minutes remaining.
When Cook opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer at the 6:35 mark, the Blue Devils appeared to be in good shape. However, Dexter scored the next 16 points, including 10 from Grant, to flip the script.
The run included Cheyenne Beem’s baseline layup, a driving basket and a 3-pointer by Grant and Herrick’s close-range hoop. Another 3 and two free throws by Grant and two Deering foul shots gave the Tigers a 43-36 lead with 56.5 seconds remaining.
“I did [have doubts] a little bit when I thought I was getting fouled, but in the end I knew that I just had to keep shooting and something good was going to happen in the end,” Peyton Grant said.
Calais, which went 2-for-15 from the field in the period, ended a nearly six-minute scoring drought on Sophie McVicar’s 3-pointer with 47.8 seconds left, but Grant iced it by making six straight free throws.
“Momentum and energy just kind of shifted on us a bit there,” Bill McVicar said. “We kind of let down there a little bit, but credit Jody. They did a nice job.”
Beem contributed six points and five rebounds and Deering added four points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals for the winners, who went 16-for-18 from the foul line.
Cook paced Calais with 16 points, while Sage Phillips (6 rebounds) and Olivia Huckins posted eight points each. The Blue Devils went 0-for-2 from the foul line.