DIXFIELD – She couldn’t hit another one, could she?

Kaylie DeMillo had already spoiled a superb defensive effort by Dirigo in the first half Wednesday night with a handful of long-range three-pointers. With the regular season finale tied in the closing seconds, everybody knew the Jay Tiger would be aiming for another pot of gold at the end of another rainbow shot.

Jay fans were hopeful and Dirigo fans fearful as DeMillo launched her buzzer-beater. When her shot from the right of the arch swished as time expired, she lifted the Tigers to a thrilling 41-38 victory and took the Cougars lengthy home winning streak with it.

“I knew it was going in,” said DeMillo, who finished with 22, including six 3-pointers. “We were going to run it down to 10 (seconds). Then I was going to run off a double screen if I needed it. I just tried to create a shot. I just told the coach that I wanted the last shot.”

Dirigo had not lost a home game since 1998, a string of 69 straight wins in Dixfield. Though the Cougars built nine-point leads twice in the first three quarters, Dirigo couldn’t put the Tigers away.

“All year we’ve had a hard time sustaining any kind of run,” said Dirigo coach Gavin Kane, whose team had lost to Jay 38-29 earlier this season.

The win should put the Tigers (12-6) in a battle for the fourth or fifth spot in Western C. Dirigo (15-3) expects to hold the second seed.

“It’s definitely a good feeling,” said DeMillo. “We’re coming off a couple of losses to Winthrop and Livermore Falls. This is really a good boost going into the playoffs. I think we showed tonight that we can play with any team.”

Jessica LaBrecque added 11 for the Tigers while Michelle Holmquist led the Cougars with 16.

Jay had taken its first lead of the game with a DeMillo 3 with 3:24 left. Dirigo took a 34-33 lead with a Holmquist basket, but another DeMillo 3 put Jay up 36-34 with 2:50 left. After Holmquist free throws tied it, Jay’s Kristen Adams answered with a pair for a 38-36 lead. Holly Knight’s baseline jumper with 37 seconds left made it 38-38.

The look on DeMillo’s face told Jay Coach Chris Bessey that his sharpshooter wanted the ball. He called timeout to set things up.

“I didn’t want it to be too early,” said Bessey. “I didn’t want Dirigo to get the ball back.”

Jay ran its weave and set up some double screens to give DeMillo some space. With Dirigo’s Megan Russell matching her step for step, DeMillo did her fadeaway move and let it fly.

“You know Kaylie’s going to take the shot,” said Kane. “It’s a matter of defending her as best you can. We had her 30 feet away from the basket. Megan was right in her face. You just have to tip your hat when she knocks down a shot like that.”

Jay only shot 3-for-18 in the first half, but Dirigo’s defensive effort went for naught. Though the Cougars had a 16-7 lead late in the second quarter, DeMillo hit back-to-back 3’s to end the half 16-13.

The Cougars built a 24-15 lead midway through the third quarter, but DeMillo made some nice dishes to LaBrecque inside and then added two more 3’s to end the quarter, getting the Tigers within 26-24.


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