The Dexter High School girls basketball team trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half but stormed back to take an 11-point lead before holding off Central High School of Corinth 56-51 in their Class C North semifinal at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Friday afternoon.
Dexter, 19-1, will now take on Penobscot Valley of Howland in Saturday’s 7 p.m. final.
Central wound up 16-4.
Junior Cally Gudroe poured in 18 points for Dexter and Mazie Peach had 17 points, including 13 in the second half. Gudroe also had six rebounds while Peach had 15 rebounds and two blocked shots.
Hannah Dean had nine points and 10 rebounds and Jozlynn Paige contributed seven points.
Izzy Allen had a game-high 24 points for Central and sister Mary added 11 points. Izzy Allen had six rebounds and Mary had nine rebounds.
Sydney Gray scored eight points and Rylee Speed added six.
Central led 23-10 with five minutes left in the first half but the Tigers outscored Central 11-3 to close out the half and pull within five at the intermission.
They followed that up with a 15-3 spurt to open the second half to take a 36-29 lead and Central couldn’t get any closer than four the rest of the way.
“We stepped up our defense in the second half and we got more aggressive on offense: driving, shooting, getting it into the post,” said junior guard Gudroe.
Peach admitted that there was some panic when they got down by 13 “but we put our heads down and worked a little harder.”
Masked Central coach Jamie Russell, who was back after missing the quarterfinals with COVID, said his team simply didn’t have an answer to Dexter’s surge.
“They did a nice job limiting us to one shot and it usually wasn’t the shot we wanted,” Russell said. “They executed down the other end and made their free throws.”
Dexter made 19 of its 24 free throw attempts in the second half.
The 6-foot-2 Peach said she became more aggressive in the second half, during which she had 11 of her 15 rebounds.
“I’m huge and I wanted to show that,” Peach said.
She said Central was fronting her so that opened up the lob pass option “and I was also able to spin off and get rebounds.”
Peach and Dexter coach Jody Grant said the game was similar to a regular season game in which they fell behind by double digits early but rallied for the win.
Grant said it was important to cut the lead to five at the intermission and gain momentum.
“We moved the ball better in the second half,” said Grant, who added that the fact they hit some perimeter shots opened up the inside game for Peach.