No. 3 Dexter proved to be too much for No. 6 Lee Academy in their C North quarterfinal at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Monday night.
The Tigers (17-2) led almost the entire game and earned the 50-40 victory. Dexter will face the winner of No. 2 Fort Kent and No. 7 George Stevens on Thursday night.
Bryce Connor paced Dexter with 14 points. Nick Allard poured in 16 to lead Lee.
Lee Academy (11-9) began the game in a box-and-one defense with one defender guarding Will Kusneirz at all times, while the other four defenders played zone defense in a square to defend the rest of the team.
“Coming into this tournament, other teams we play, they have to stop Will Kusneirz,” Connor said. “We expected that going in and we practiced against a box-and-one. Other guys gotta be able to step up and make shots and be better than their other guy. Everyone has to step up and do their job.”
It worked for the first half as Kusneirz, a 1,000-point scorer in his career, was held scoreless over the first eight minutes. The senior finished with 12 points.
“It’s not the first time we’ve seen it but it looked like it was the first time we had seen it,” Dexter coach Peter Murray said of Lee’s defense on Kusneirz. “You get down here and kids get a little too amped up. They’re trying to do things that are beyond what they’re capable of, including Will. I just got done talking to him that when teams do that to him he’s got to contribute in other ways. He’s such an offensive talent but he can do other things.”
For Lee Academy, the defense proved viable at the end of the regular season.
“We played Woodland in the last game of the season and we played a triangle and two, diamond and two and had real good luck with it,” Lee coach Randy Harris said. “He didn’t score many on [Nick] Allard and when he scored his points we went to that 1-3-1 trap. Nick Allard deserves a lot of credit.”
Dexter went on a 10-0 run after Lee scored the first basket of the game and led 10-2 with 3:34 left in the first quarter.
Lee’s Allard scored four points in the first to help the Pandas back to a 10-8 deficit heading into the second quarter.
Kusneirz was able to get on the scoreboard in the second quarter, scoring a 3-pointer from the top of the arc and then scoring in close for five points.
Dexter took a 17-8 lead quickly in the second quarter until another layup from Allard that stopped the run. Lee then had back-to-back coast-to-coast layups from both Jackson Sabattus and Andrew Scott that made it 19-16 with 3:30 left.
Connor of Dexter scored five points in the second quarter and at halftime the Tigers had a 24-16 lead.
Kayden Kimball scored four in the third quarter for Dexter as the Tigers outscored the Pandas 11-7 in the frame. Dexter held the ball for the final 50 seconds of the third but came away with no points. Lee still trailed 35-23 going into the final quarter.
Just more than one minute into the fourth, Kusneirz threw the ball to Allard who sprinted up the court and scored on the other end to cut the deficit to 35-25.
Dexter continued to take its time on offense and scored off a 45-second possession midway through the fourth with Kimball scoring an open layup. Kimball’s open basket gave Dexter a 41-32 lead with 3:30 to play in the game.
“They like to play very fast paced,” Connor said. “We watched their prelim game and they like to get out and run. We wanted to slow the game down and have minute possessions and get a layup. We know that if we have a 10-point lead we can slow the game down and win.”
In the fourth, Kimball hit all four of his free throws and scored 12 total points.
Allard scored two late baskets to pull the Pandas within 46-38 with 74 seconds remaining. The guard also grabbed eight rebounds.