JAY – When Jay coach Chris Bessey called for a timeout early in the first quarter, he looked up and saw his team trailing Dirigo 8-0. For him, it looked like more deja vu for his squad.

The end result was hardly deja vu.

An aggressive 1-3-1 zone by Jay, combined with a cold shooting night by the perennial Western Maine champions added up to a 38-29 triumph for the Tigers.

The victory was the first for the Tigers over their Mountain Valley Conference rival since before Gavin Kane’s tenure at the Dirigo helm began back in 1994.

Bessey and his team certainly weren’t celebrating like one would expect. While Bessey did get doused in a Gatorade-type soaking, he was quick to put the win in perspective.

“It’s still January 13,” said Bessey. “We’ve had a lot of years of frustration, but we don’t want to peak in early January. We want to be playing our best ball in February.”

From the outset, it looked like the Cougars (7-2) were the ones in top form. Four different players connected from outside and inside.

“Our game plan was to slow (Dirigo) down,” said Bessey. “It’s my job to get them ready to play. I think the atmosphere had them in shock.”

After scoring 10 points in the first quarter, the Cougars tallied a mere nine points over the two middle quarters.

“We had the good start,” said Kane. “But it’s been the story of our season. We couldn’t sustain it.”

Jessica LaBrecque got the Tigers (8-3) rolling with eight of her 10 points in the first half. Leading scorer Kaylie DeMillo was stymied by Katie Hutchinson’s man-to-man coverage and hit just two of her eight shots in the first half, but the Tigers still grabbed an 18-16 lead at intermission.

In the third quarter, Dirigo couldn’t buy a basket despite having a decided edge on the offensive boards and getting some great looks underneath. All three of the visitors’ points in the quarter came at the free throw line.

“I thought we had some good offensive opportunities early in the third quarter,” said Kane. “If we make some of those bunnies, it makes for a different complexion of the game.”

The Tigers received treys from DeMillo and Liz LeBlanc in the third, along with a long jumper from the wing by LaBrecque to end the quarter leading 26-19. The Tigers stretched their lead to 31-24 with a little less than five minutes to play.

After Megan Russell drained a 3-pointer for the Cougars with 4:40 remaining, Bessey elected to go into a four corner offense, and the Tigers put the game away at the free throw line as DeMillo sank six free throws and Katie Mastine nailed two.

“I didn’t feel a lot of pressure,” said DeMillo, who finished with a game-high 15 points. “I’ve been in that situation before.”

The Cougars top scorer was Katherine Gagne with eight points while Michelle Holmquist added seven.



Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.