BANGOR, Maine — As he walked down a Cross Insurance Center corridor Tuesday afternoon, Dexter girls basketball coach Jody Grant breathed a sigh of relief that could’ve been heard back in Dexter.

The Tigers had roared out to an 18-5 halftime lead of a Northern Maine Class C quarterfinal against Stearns, only to have the gritty Minutemen cut it to three in the fourth quarter.

But the second-ranked Tigers had a response of their own in Megan Peach, who converted a pair of crucial conventional 3-point plays late to help Dexter hold on for a 39-32 victory over the No. 7 Minutemen.

Dexter (15-4) will meet No. 3 Narraguagus in Friday’s semifinals while Stearns finishes 13-7.

The Minutemen were able to claw their way back into the contest after a cold-shooting first half, and 10 second-half turnovers by Dexter helped fuel the surge.

“I figured they were going to try to mix it up, which they did at times,” Grant said. “They’re tough to guard, that’s a problem for some of our bigger kids away from the basket.”

A follow-up bucket by Stearns’ Mackenzie Carter with 3:35 left in regulation trimmed Dexter’s lead to 27-24, but a 3-point play by Peach, who led all scorers with 17 points, helped restore the Tigers’ lead to seven.

Stearns got no closer than four the rest of the way.

Grant attributed some of the turnovers to nerves, as many of the Tigers are new to the bright lights of the Cross Center.

“This is the first time those kids have been on this floor in this particular situation,” said Grant, whose team graduated seven seniors last year.

Stearns could only manage two field goals in the first half, and simply could not buy a basket.

“We just couldn’t make a shot,” said Minutemen coach Nick Cullen. “We knew we had to make some shots early.”

Cullen figured the magic number would be 40 for his team against a Dexter club that prides itself on shutting down opponents and keeping the score low.

“We knew going into this game we needed to score 40 points or more to beat them and we didn’t do it,” Cullen said.

Grant added, “It’s a good thing they didn’t shoot the ball as well as they’re capable of in the first half.”

Carter was Stearns’ leading scorer with 10 points.

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Ryan McLaughlin

BDN sports freelancer Ryan McLaughlin grew up in Brewer and is a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins.