Blue Devils Advance To Eastern Maine Semi-Finals

Lose Thrilling 61-57 

Over-Time Contest to 

Lee Academy

The Calais Blue Devils have recorded another successful season in Maine Class C basketball under Coach Leeman. During the regular season they earned a 15-3 record which placed them in 2ND place in the East, just behind Houlton (18-0) and ahead of Lee Academy (15-3). 

Calais opened the Eastern Maine playoffs at the new Cross Center on Tuesday when they faced the #7 Orono Red Riots that were 9-9 on the season. The Blue Devils quick control early as they pounded out an 18-12 advantage after the first 8-minutes of action. 

The Riots fought back tying the contest 20-20 at 5:46 and actually earned a 26-24 lead at 1:21 of the 2ND period only to see the Blue Devils entering the lockers ahead midway 29-26. Kyle Johnson had a career opening half at the new facility pacing his squad with 21-points!

The Riots jumped back quickly with Alik Espling hitting a 3-pointer to tie the contest. This continued throughout the entire period as the score was tied three times, including 40-40 at 2:59. Tyler Niles took Calais into the final period with a slight 42-40 advantage. Andre Paul led Calais’ by hitting 5-points over those 8-minutes and Tyler Niles made 4-points.

Tyler opened the fourth with a hoop for Calais, then Kyle Johnson added 2-free throws, a steal and 2 more baskets putting the Blue Devils ahead for good 50-44 at 3:08 remaining. Orono didn’t lay down and was able to keep the margin at 6-points down to 28.9-seconds after Cordell Hold made 2-free-throws. With 12.3-seconds Damian Heeger made a 3-pointer putting the score to 55-52. They had a final 3-point attempt but couldn’t convert and Calais took the hard fought victory. In the win Calais was led by Kyle Johnson with 29-points, 5-rebounds, and 4-steals. Tyler Niles with a double-double scored 12-points and added 13-rebounds. Nathan Newell had 3-points and 2-steals. Andre Paul scored 6-points and earned 2-steals & 4-rebounds, Horace Diffen scored 2, and Cordell Hold 3-rebounds and 3-points.

As a team Calais had 15-turnovers and Orono had 12. The difference came from 3-point land where Calais shot 60% (6/10), while their counterparts were 2/7 or 29%. And also from the bonus stripe as Calais was a strong 74% (14/19), while the Riots shot 68%.

The win earned Calais a birth in the semi-final contest on Friday against #3 Lee Academy also with a 15-3 regular season mark. They had defeated #6 Penquis (12-6) in the quarterfinals. The similar records from these two talented teams gave the fans one of the most exciting basketball games in recent memory. Lee jumped a 23-17 in the opening period and both teams played tough to a 23-23 deadlock as they went to the lockers at the half. 

Lee had the early momentum as Tsoungui took it to the glass for two, Chen added two free throws, and Fall hit a jumper putting the Pandas up 29-23 before Calais scored. The Blue Devils rolled back and with Andre Paul’s 3-pointer Calais was down a hoop, 30-32. Wang hit a big 3-pointer midway and Calais Nathan Newell answered with a three keeping the 2-point differential, 35-37. Wang made a nice baseline shot and at 3:11 Tyler Niles covered it along with pulling down 2-big boards. Lee ended the stanza with two from Fall, putting the guests ahead 41-37 after 24-minutes of action.

A quick Calais turnover in the fourth with Tsoungui making the hoop and foul shot, Lee earned their largest lead of the game at 7-points and a 44-37 advantage. At 6:42 Nathan Newell answered with another 3, then Fall hit a nice 10-footer and a free throw shot to get back to a 7-lead, 47-40. With baskets by Kyle Johnson and Tyler Niles at 3:41 Calais trailed by just 3, 44-47. Down to the 1:12 mark Calais had a basket by Kyle Johnson and two free throws from Andre Paul making it a one point contest, 49-50. At 1:04 Fall made two free throws uping the lead to three only to see Kyle putting the game into OT at 52-52 with a smooth 3-pointer at 0:49-seconds.

In the 4-minute OT period Calais earned the first lead in the game with two Tyler Niles free throws, 54-52. Peters tied it for Lee and at 1:37 Chen put the Pandas ahead for good with a 3-pointer, as they played to a 61-57 victory. 

Final stats had Kyle Johnson with 13-point, 2-steals, and 6-rebounds; Horace Diffen had 2-points; Tyler Niles 12-points and 9-rebounds; Nathan Newell 4-3-pointers and 2-boards; Andre Paul 8-points and a steal; PJ Descoteaux a  steal; and Cordell Hold 9-points, 2-boards, and a steal. This was a fantastic game and the Calais boys can be extremely proud of the tough game they played and the great season they had!