Several of the region’s top guards went head to head in Friday’s Class C North girls semifinal between No. 1 Stearns and No. 4 Calais.
Those players canceled each other out to some extent, but the Blue Devils had no real answer for Minutemen forward Annalys Robinson.
Robinson scored nine of her 16 points to spearhead a third-quarter resurgence by Stearns and she pulled down 16 rebounds to help the Minutemen earn a 53-42 victory at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
“We ran that little pick-and-roll baseline play over and over [for Robinson] and they just didn’t have an answer for it,” Stearns coach Nick Cullen said. “She’s super athletic. In the last four or five games she’s really come on strong.”
Stearns (18-2) plays No. 6 Central Aroostook (16-4), a 35-32 winner over No. 2 Dexter in the other semifinal, in Saturday’s 7 p.m. regional championship game.
“We’ve been looking forward to that matchup. We knew that they were a wonderful team,” Cullen said.
The Blue Devils (19-1) led by as many as nine points in the first half, but Stearns clamped down in its player-to-player defense after intermission and limited Calais to 17 second-half points on 5-for-36 shooting (14 percent).
“They were running that little dribble-drive weave offense. We were going under the screens too much,” Cullen said. “We decided to jump the screens. We felt very comfortable with all of our guards being able to guard any one of their guards.”
Senior Katie Alley guarded Calais junior Sophie McVicar (4 points, 6 rebounds), while sophomore Alisyn Alley helped limit Calais senior Olivia Huckins to 13 points and five rebounds.
In the meantime, Stearns ran the screen-and-roll with Robinson, who got free close to the basket against the Blue Devils’ smaller frontcourt.
Alisyn Alley finished with a game-high 19 points with six rebounds for the Minutemen, while Katie Alley and Katie Kenyon posed five points each. Kasey Kenyon grabbed seven rebounds.
“Screen-and-roll did really well for us with Annalys so I’m very proud of her,” Alisyn Alley said.
Senior guard Lauren Cook tossed in 17 points to pace Calais, which received a game-best 18 rebounds and three points from Sage Phillips and eight rebounds and three points from Nedra Bassett.
Stearns seized the upper hand in the third quarter, which included a game-changing 12-1 run. Robinson opened the surge with a foul shot and a fast-break layup before Phillips made one free throw for Calais, which led 27-25.
Robinson followed with a 10-footer from the lane and Alisyn Allen drained a 3-pointer at the 3:54 mark to give the Minutemen the lead for good at 30-27. Robinson’s 17-footer off an inbounds play and a driving layup by Katie Alley, her first basket of the game, made it 34-27 with 17 seconds left in the quarter.
“We’re normally a second-half team,” Robinson said. “We just really stepped it up like we normally do in the second half.”
Calais got back within a point on a Huckins 3-pointer early in the fourth, but Stearns gradually stretched its advantage to get the win.