No. 2 Dexter and No. 4 George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill looked to be inevitable foes in the Class C North boys basketball final for much of the winter. Although GSA showed some vulnerability with two late-season losses to Central of Corinth and Mattanawcook Academy — leaving Dexter as the lone unbeaten team in the division.
That matchup may be on again, but first come Friday’s semifinals at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
GSA (18-2) appeared to be back in title-contending form during its 67-39 quarterfinal win over No. 5 Fort Fairfield, with senior guard Caden Mattson controlling the game at both ends of the floor and backcourt mate David Gadsby one of two exciting sophomores for the Eagles along with 6-foot-5 center Teague Smallidge.
GSA will be tested in the 7 p.m. semifinal by top-ranked Central Aroostook of Mars Hill (15-4), which overpowered No. 9 Stearns of Millinocket 72-48 behind the tenacious defense of junior guard Josh Thomas and the all-around play of senior Brayden Bradbury.
George Stevens is seeking its fifth straight regional final appearance, and its combination of talent and postseason experience may be enough to get the job done.
Dexter (19-0) survived and advanced with its 39-36 quarterfinal win over Central. The Tigers’ defense was true to its season-long average of less than 34 points per game while the offense delivered just enough against a familiar foe that coach Peter Murray’s club was playing for third time this season.
The Tigers have not played No. 3 Fort Kent (17-3), which topped Mattanawcook Academy 63-48 in its quarterfinal.
This 8:30 p.m. matchup should be a battle of tempo, with Fort Kent looking to work the transition game while Dexter epitomizes discipline on both ends of the floor.
Dexter’s rangy lineup will have to be aware of a quick-strike Fort Kent attack that made eight 3-pointers in the quarters, but the Warriors likely have not faced a defense as stout as Dexter’s all winter.
A Dexter-George Stevens final could be in the offing.