The similarities are uncanny, said Winthrop coach Dennis Dacus.

Watching film of the unbeaten Calais Blue Devils was like finding footage of a long lost brother for the Ramblers. But tonight’s Class C championship game (9:05, Augusta Civic Center) will be anything but a touching reunion.

Like Winthrop, Calais uses its quickness to play tenacious defense and get easy hoops in transition. While it doesn’t have a traditional big man, it uses its athleticism to defend in the paint and rebound and exploits its speed advantage in the frontcourt at the offensive end.

Just to make sure his eyes weren’t deceiving him, Dacus called someone who had seen Calais in person.

“Just to add some credence to it, I called (former Van Buren star and current Madawaska coach) Matt Rossignol, because looking at their scores, he played them the toughest,” he said. “When Matty described to me what they do and how they are and what this kid’s like and what that kid’s like, it’s uncanny how equal we are.”

“Watching them on TV, the quickness, I think, is a draw. Shooting, I think, is a draw, the big men are equal,” he added. “I think it’s going to be a great one.”

Just because he sees a mirror image in the Blue Devils doesn’t mean Dacus thinks they’re easy to figure out.

“They don’t really run a set offense. They run a motion, which is kind of hard to coach against because you don’t know what they’re going to do,” Dacus said.

The Blue Devils (21-0) are led by junior Brandon Tomah and Chris Taylor.

Dacus said Tomah is the Blue Devils’ quickest and best all-around player.

Taylor may be the purer scorer, and scored 19 points in their regional final win over George Stevens Academy.

But both share the offensive load with a good supporting cast that includes Sam Bell.

“We didn’t really have anybody average big numbers this year,” Calais coach Ed Leeman said. “We don’t really talk about having that balance. That’s just the way it seems to work out.”

Leeman sees the same kind of balance in Winthrop (18-3). Four starters, Tyler Smithgall (22 ppg, and the Western C tourney’s outstanding player), Nate Damm (12 ppg), Mike Gigras (10 ppg) and Sam Leclerc (10 ppg) averaged double figures in the tournament, while the fifth starter, Tim Gingras, averaged a solid 8 ppg.

“They seem to have five kids that can handle the ball pretty well and five kids who can pass it,” Leeman said. “They’re a tough match-up.”

A hot topic of discussion this week has been which team is faster. Asked for his opinion, Leeman said it’s too tough to tell with only film to go by. Who has the fleetest feet won’t be decided until the feet hit the ACC floor tonight.

But for all the talk of who is quicker or runs the floor better, the game could come down to who executes best when the the tempo slows down.

“The key Saturday night is to stay out of foul trouble, have confidence in your open shot and play great halfcourt defense,” Dacus said. “I think both teams will run on each other a little bit and both teams will hit some key shots and make about the same amount of threes. I think those will be a wash. I think Whoever makes it harder for the other team to score in the halfcourt set will win.”


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