By Jessica Bloch, Of the NEWS Staff - BANGOR - When freshman Sabrina Cote and senior Keriann Patterson went to the free throw line during the fourth quarter of the Eastern Maine Class C basketball final, the Dexter players weren't thinking about the fact the game was on the line, or imagining a chance to play for a gold ball, or what their teammates would do if they missed the shots.Both Cote and Patterson thought back to a book about shooting free throws they both had read recently. And they calmly went through the instructions in Tom Amberry's "Free Throw: 7 Steps to Success at the Free Throw Line" in their minds.
"[The book] went through all the steps," Patterson said. "I was thinking, step, step, step."
Although Cote missed two free throws after a Calais intentional foul, she came back and made two more 6.3 seconds later while Patterson made four in the final 13 seconds of the fourth quarter to seal a 46-39 Dexter victory over the Blue Devils and the program's first regional title at the Bangor Auditorium on Saturday night.
The 21-0 Tigers will go for the state championship Friday at 7:35 p.m. when they take on Western Maine winner and defending state champion Dirigo of Dixfield, also 21-0, at the Bangor Auditorium.
Calais wraps up its amazing season - the Blue Devils were not a favorite to make their 11th straight EM final - with a 15-6 record.
The Tigers were, however, considered a favorite as early as the end of last season to emerge from Eastern Maine.
"We had to stay focused and we couldn't look ahead, like people wanted us to do," junior point guard Brittany Veazie said.
The Tigers certainly stayed focused in the fourth quarter. Facing a 37-35 Calais lead after the Blue Devils' Emily Smith nailed a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer, Dexter forward Ashley Foster made a free throw and 6-foot-3 center Ashley Ames put back Foster's miss on the second shot to give the Tigers a 38-37 lead. Calais senior Crystal Martin knocked down two free throws with 2:21 left to regain the lead for the Blue Devils.
Following a series of timeouts and turnovers after Martin's foul shots, Veazie stole the ball and hit a fast-break layup with 1:03 remaining, putting the Tigers up for good. Calais didn't score in the final 2:21.
"[The steal] was huge," said Margaret Veazie, the Dexter coach and Brittany Veazie's mother. "I think we were down by one when she stole it and that turned us around. She was in foul trouble, but she took over and it worked."
The intentional foul also was a turning point for both teams even though Cote missed the free throws.
"I was like, oh my gosh, what am I going to do?" Cote said. "But I was thinking, it's not the end of the world. No matter what, we got to keep the ball."
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