Fort Kent's Lance Gagnon (#22) goes in for a basket over a Dexter defender in a Class C North semifinal game at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Feb. 24, 2023. Credit: Seth Poplaski / BDN

Preseason prognostications didn’t expect much out of the Fort Kent boys basketball team.

But the second-ranked Warriors continued to defy all the doubters, using a consistent effort on both ends of the floor to earn a 48-34 Class C North semifinal victory over third-ranked and defending regional champion Dexter at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Friday night.

Fort Kent (16-4) earned its first trip to a regional championship game in program history and took on top-ranked Calais on Saturday.

The Tigers finish their season 17-3.

After a back and forth slugfest in the first half, coach Chad Cyr’s club began to use its quickness and athleticism to wear down the bigger Tigers on both ends of the court.

That was spearheaded by the duo of Ethan Daigle and Lance Gagnon, with Daigle scoring 10 of his game-high 16 points in the first half and Gagnon netting six third-quarter points to help the Warriors stretch their lead to 15 by the end of the third quarter.

Dexter would get no closer than 12.

The Warriors did an outstanding job of using their quickness to use Dexter’s aggressiveness against them, and Fort Kent was able to play through the Tigers’ physicality.

“That’s the style of play, that’s just how these kids play,” Cyr said.

“They’re a good defensive team,” Daigle said. “Our goal was to out-defend them this game.”

In spite of struggling from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter (2-for-12), the Warriors were able to hold the defending champions at bay.

“That’s got to get better,” Cyr noted of the Warriors’ foul-line struggles.

While Will Kusnerirz led Dexter with 15 points, the Warriors were able to consistently frustrate him and force contested shots anytime he penetrated inside.

“We had a rough preseason, but we figured it out,” said Daigle, who also had eight rebounds and five assists. “We’ve just been gelling as a team.”

Fort Kent forced six Dexter turnovers in the second quarter to steadily take command of the game.

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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.