By Jessica Bloch, Of the NEWS Staff -
BANGOR — For two years, Dexter’s Ashley Ames imagined what it would be like to pull down the nets from the basketball hoops at the Bangor Auditorium. She made that dream a reality Saturday night.
Ames poured in 26 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and blocked five shots as the undefeated No. 1 Tigers won their 43rd game in a row, 60-40 over No. 2 Calais in the Eastern Maine Class C championship game Saturday night. “It’s surreal for me because I’ve always wanted to take down the nets,” said Ames, who was an underclassman and therefore watched while Dexter seniors of the past two years had the honor of cutting down the nets. “I’ve been thinking about that ever since [Friday night], if we win we get the nets.”
The victory over the Blue Devils is Dexter’s third straight regional title, and sends them to the Class C state game, where they will meet Western Maine winner Dirigo of Dixfield for the third year in a row.
The Tigers and the Cougars will play Friday at 7:35 p.m. at the Bangor Auditorium. Dirigo and Dexter have split those state contests, with the Tigers taking last year’s Class C crown. Calais, which made its first regional final appearance since 2003 — also a loss to Dexter — finishes with a 17-4 record.
Ames’ sister Mallory Ames chipped in with 18 points. The sisters combined to go 15-for-19 from the field, part of Dexter’s 25-for-41 effort. “She came through for us with some big shots,” Ashley said of her sister. The Tigers racked up 16 assists.
Ashley Ames, a 6-foot-4 senior, and Mallory Ames, a 6-6 sophomore, provided their usual offensive and defensive dominance. “Whatever [defense] we could find we tried it all, zone, man,” Calais coach Bob McShane said. “They’re a great team with great height and we didn’t play very well.”
Calais led very early after senior Emily Smith scored on a fast-break layup — something Dexter knew it had to watch for against the Blue Devils.
Luckily, the Tigers had another such game under their belts after beating the running, pressing Stearns of Millinocket girls Friday afternoon in the semis.
“Calais played man-to-man and zone so we had to keep switching our offenses,” said Dexter point guard Nicci Burton, who had six assists and three steals. “But we stayed under control, and we won.”
Although Calais seniors Emily Smith, Tracie Eagan and Danielle O’ Brien combined for 26 of the Devils’ 40 points, the Tigers did a fine job of keeping the trio under wraps. Ashley Ames kept O’Brien off the baseline, while Sabrina Cote guarded Eagan and Burton had Smith.
“We tried to focus on those three,” Dexter coach Jody Grant said. “We knew they were their key players.” Calais tried to launch a rally late in the third quarter with Mallory Ames on the bench in foul trouble. After Ashley Ames made a jumper off a pass from Cote to make it 40-19, the Blue Devils went on a 10-0 run, capped by a Smith 3-pointer, to cut the lead to 11.
Darcy Gillespie of Calais opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer, followed by another Smith fast-break basket and then a Danielle O’Brien free throw to slice the lead to seven points.
But the Tigers went on a 14-3 run from there, even after Mallory Ames got her fourth foul and stayed in the game. “We made that run but we didn’t execute real well after that,” McShane said. “But it was a great
season for the kids and I’m proud of them.”
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