Bangor---Derek Johnson is not normally the first name that gets mentioned when talking about the Penquis Patriots boys basketball team.
The Patriots dynamic duo of Isaiah Bess and Trevor Lyford combined for only 20 points on 7-18 shooting from the field.
Johnson stepped up to record eight points (six in the second quarter) on 4-5 shooting and five rebounds in the Patriots 46-23 class C semifinal victory over the Dexter Tigers Friday evening at the Bangor Auditorium.
"I don't think Isaiah (Bess) played well tonight offensively,"Penquis coach Tony Hamlin said. "Derek Johnson came off the bench and scored six points in the second quarter. He was the player of the game."
The Patriots defense held Dexter to 9-33 (27.3%) shooting from the field.
"Defensively I think we are (playing our best basketball),"Hamlin said. "Offensively I didn't think we played particularly well tonight, that is a credit to them (Dexter)."
Bess added, "We work on defense the majority of our practices. All five guys played pressure defense."
The Patriots built a 13-3 after the first quarter. The Tigers did not get closer than nine the rest of the way.
Bailey Spack from Dexter played solid defense against Bess (a junior) who went over 1000 career points during the Patriots quarterfinal victory over Stearns.
"Dexter made us earn it, that is the way it should be,"Hamlin said. "(Dexter coach) Peter (Murray) got a lot of mileage out of those kids."
Junior Trevor Lyford was limited to five points on only five field goal attemps.
"Every game we see a box and one or triangle and two. We work on that at practice,"Bess said. "It takes a lot of effort for our guys to step up and that is what they did."
Penquis (19-1) will take on Houlton (19-1) in the class C Eastern Maine final on Saturday evening at 9 p.m.
"Houlton is probably the best team in the tournament. (Kyle) Bouchard is a beast,"Hamlin said. "We need to play really well. These kids will not go away quietly. They will stick their nose in and compete. It should be a hell of a game. Been kind of looking forward to this all season."
Bess added, "Hopefully if we can play good defense we will have a chance to win tomorrow."
Trevor Fogarty led the Tigers with nine points. Dexter finishes the season with a 13-8 record.