An intriguing matchup between 1,000-point scorers on two high-tempo teams highlights Friday’s Class C North girls semifinal matchups at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
That contest pits fourth-seeded and unbeaten Downeast Athletic Conference power Calais, still undefeated at 19-0, against top seed and Penobscot Valley Conference power Stearns of Millinocket (17-2).
Stearns’ leader is senior guard Katherine Alley, while the Blue Devils have a legitimate sharpshooter in senior guard Lauren Cook. That game tips off at 3:30 p.m.
In the other semifinal, No. 2 Dexter (15-4) takes on sixth-seeded Central Aroostook of Mars Hill (16-4) at 2 p.m.
Stearns and Calais should be a nifty clash of guard-oriented teams, but each has enough post presence to be balanced. This one promises to be fast-paced as each team tries to take advantage by attacking the basket off the dribble, firing up open 3-pointers and pushing the pace in transition.
Stearns breezed to a 63-40 win over Central in the quarterfinals behind Katherine Alley, sister Alisyn Alley and forward Annalys Robinson. Calais rode its terrific guard trio of Sophie McVicar, Lauren Cook and Olivia Huckins to a 51-33 victory over defending North champ Penobscot Valley.
Dexter hopes to unveil its usual deliberate approach against a Central Aroostook team that plays with more of a County flair.
The Tigers outlasted Narraguagus of Harrington 38-35 on a buzzer-beater by Peyton Grant to reach the semifinals, while the Panthers similarly had to grind out a 45-41 win over Fort Fairfield.
Grant is the go-to player for a Dexter team that stresses discipline at both ends. Libby Grass and Breann Bradbury give Central Aroostook a productive duo.
Calais and Stearns both bowed out in the semifinals last season, but one will punch its ticket into the title game. Calais might be a bit more dynamic in the backcourt, but the Minutemen may be better up front.
The difference will be which team slows the other’s dribble penetration, limits its turnovers and makes it free throws. A slight edge goes to Stearns because of a superior schedule, but the Blue Devils are a dangerous offensive team.
Central Aroostook’s best hope to knock Dexter out of its familiar position near the top of Class C North will be to get a decent early lead. The Tigers are much tougher when playing from in front and dictating a disciplined tempo.
If the Panthers can score early, prevent Dexter from getting open 3-pointers and limit the Tigers to one shot, they’ll have a fighting chance to win.