The Tigers took to the same court - the Augusta Civic Center - and marked the day with another state crown.
Powered by senior Sabrina Cote's 16 points and seven rebounds, the Dexter girls survived 22 turnovers and a late Hall-Dale run for a 45-38 victory over the Bulldogs of Farmingdale Saturday evening.
Coach Jody Grant's Tigers played solid defense in the final minute of the game, including a Mallory Ames block and a Tracy Mountain rebound, en route to their second Class C state crown in three years. It was the Tigers' fourth straight appearance in the state final.
"This is excellent for the seniors this year," said Cote, the EM tourney MVP. "It's a great note to go out on."
Ames, a 6-foot-6 junior center, had a quiet offensive game with eight points, but she grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds to go with four blocks. Ames also made it tough on Hall-Dale's two 6-foot post players, Caitlyn Laflin and Chelsea Dionne.
Laflin led the Bulldogs with 15 points but had only three field goals in the paint. Dionne had six points on 2-for-10 shooting, and the two combined for nine rebounds.
With the exception of all those turnovers, things were plugging along for the Tigers in the second half.
"To start the game Coach said take anything they give us," Cote said. "Once we built a little bit of a lead, he wanted us to pound it inside and try to get them in foul trouble, just be patient on offense."
Powered by 10-for-19 shooting, including two rare 3-pointers, Dexter's pre-game strategy worked well early. The Tigers took a 25-13 lead into halftime.
They were up 38-23 after Katie Poirier (12 points, seven rebounds) hit a jump shot with 5:35 left in the fourth.
The Tigers were able to draw fouls on Laflin and Dionne, but Dexter turned over the ball forcing passes inside to Ames.
The Bulldogs' defensive pressure really picked up after coach Sam Hayes called a timeout with 3:30 left.
Hall-Dale's Heather St. Pierre hit a jumper out of the timeout, followed by a Katie Frett basket after she stole the ball in the backcourt.
Dexter kept its lead at the free-throw line, but two Laflin 3-pointers and another by Brittany Bourgeois with 54 seconds left in the game made it 41-35.
The Bulldogs' hot streak ended there. Hall-Dale missed at least four jump shots in the final minute, including a Frett shot blocked by Ames and a Bourgeois 3-point attempt that Mountain rebounded and passed over to Chelsea Chambers, who sent the ball down the court to Ames for a lay-in with fewer than five seconds left.
"We did the best we could handling the pressure and they hit a couple of those shots at the end, but we were up six, eight points, so we just needed to keep fighting, and we did," Dexter senior point guard Nicci Burton said.
The game might have been closer earlier but Hall-Dale shot 6-for-33 in the first half and 14-for-58 overall.
"If it's about shots, I don't have an issue. If it's effort, I have an issue," Hayes said. "[The game] was about shots and not effort tonight. ... We ran our offense, we got great shots, we just couldn't hit them."
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