Make shots.

Kyle Johnson, Nathan Newell and Travon Rhodes combined for five 3-pointers in a stretch connecting the third and fourth quarters, breaking open a titanic defensive struggle and boosting the Blue Devils to a 57-43 victory for the Class C boys’ basketball championship at Cross Insurance Center.

Calais (20-2) won its fourth title in 10 years, the second at the Cougars’ expense. Dirigo (19-3) was appearing in the final for the fifth time in seven seasons, its lone win coming in 2012.

“I never could have imagined this in my first year,” Calais coach Chris Woodside. “Any team, one through eight, can come and beat you. It’s a credit to these guys and how close they are that we were able to do this.”

The Blue Devils brandished the balance that backed up their top billing in the Eastern tournament.

Newell, a 5-foot-8 senior guard, led Calais with 16 points. Johnson and Tyler Niles, also seniors, each added 10. Rhodes registered eight points. Andre Paul put up six.


Riley Robinson rolled up 20 points, seven rebounds and three assists for Dirigo, which shot 18-for-50 (36 percent) from the field and committed 14 turnovers.

Calais only hit at a 32 percent clip, but Johnson and Newell nailed consecutive 3-pointers from opposite corners to rip it open in the third quarter, inflating Calais’ cushion to double digits at 33-22.

“They were leaving me open, so I had to step up and hit them,” Newell said.

Robinson drove to the basket and drew Johnson’s third foul, briefly slowing the surge. After Johnson and Dirigo’s Gavin Hebert (nine points) exchanged baskets, however, Newell rained down another open 3-pointer from the top of the arc.

“No. 23 (Newell) was supposed to be one of the guys we could double off, and he got hot,” Dirigo coach Travis Magnusson said. “The kids did what they were told, and some people might say we didn’t play good defense, but they did what they were supposed to do.”

Hebert answered again, this time with a 3-pointer, but Matt Perkins stepped in to replace a shaken-up Johnson and briefly knocked down a hook shot.


None the worse for wear after Calais’ trainer looked over his left wrist, Johnson returned and supplied the dagger with a trey just inside the third-period horn for a 43-29 advantage.

“I feel fine. I might not say that if we lost,” Johnson said. “I knew I had to do something big if I wanted to get back in the game.”

Rhodes continued the onslaught with another trey out of the ensuing break. Calais hit six 3-pointers in all, one shy of the title-game record.

Dirigo got as close as nine in the fourth before Calais pulled away once more.

Calais closed the first half with a 12-3 run, including a 7-of-8 stretch from the free-throw line, to gain a 25-20 advantage.

There were four ties in the first quarter before Robinson’s 3-pointer and Clay Swett’s leaner from the right elbow provided the Cougars their largest lead of five at 13-8.


Robinson notched nine points in the quarter and 13 in the half, but neither team connected consistently. Calais struggled in the paint, while Dirigo misfired mightily from long range.

The Blue Devils rallied despite a 1-for-9 start and 3-for-12 overall performance in the second period, with Newell, Rhodes and Tyler Niles successfully drawing contact underneath the basket and cashing in at the line.

“They were a little quicker than what the tape showed, but the biggest thing was offensive rebounds,” Magnusson said. “There were times that we were just a couple feet away, and we just didn’t get to it.”

Dirigo’s highlight was a sensational spin move along the left block by Robinson, but it was the Cougars’ lone field goal in the final 5:07.

Gavin Arsenault drove for two and drew a foul. The missed free throw left the Cougars on top, 17-13, and Rhodes followed up a pair of Newell free throws with a 3-pointers to restore Calais’ lead.

Defense carried the Cougars through the regional tournament, and the first half was no exception despite the late-developing deficit. Arsenault had two steals. Tyler Frost made a theft and also stepped in front of Niles to draw the second foul against the Devils’ center only 4:17 into the game.

“It’s tough. I’m just really proud of the kids. This doesn’t change how I feel about their season,” Magnusson said. “When we were 5-2 and lost to Winthrop by 20 points, they battled. We talked about some things, and they were committed to get better.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. 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.