POLAND — When the Poland boys’ basketball team scored a pair of late baskets to open a small lead at the half Thursday, it didn’t seem like much.
As the Knights added to that lead in the third quarter and started to pull away, that little late surge in the first half proved to be a pretty good table-setter. Poland rode that momentum to pull away in a tight game for a 49-33 win over Gray-New Gloucester.
“It’s a good win,” said Poland coach Tyler Tracy. “”It’s a good confidence builder. That’s a pretty good team, and we’re pretty inexperienced. Any time you can grind out a game like that, it shows you another way to win.”
Tyler Michaud and CJ Martin each had 14 points for the Knights (2-5). Josh Gary chipped in eight. Gray-NG (1-4) got nine from Kevin Cavallaro and seven from Sam Johnson.
“We like to run up and down the court and they like to play in the half-court,” said Gray-NG coach Ryan Deschenes. “Obviously it was a half-court game. They got us into the half-court where we’re not where we need to be yet. They dictated the pace of the game for 32 minutes.”
The first half was back and forth. There were six ties and the largest lead was three before Poland finished with baskets by Martin and Alan Young to make it 23-19 at the half.
In the third quarter, Poland forced the Patriots into a half-court set and Gray-NG struggled. Gray-NG had nearly a dozen turnovers in the second half and shot just 5-for-20 in the second half.
“That’s the best defense we’ve played in the three years I’ve been here,” said Tracy. “That’s a pretty good team. They’re well-coached. They can put up some points. We just did a great job defensively. We had a couple of breakdowns, but for the most part, I was extremely happy because it has not been a strong suit lately.”
The Patriots looked tentative and lost the aggressiveness it showed in the first half. As Poland started to get some consistent offense in the third, the Patriots couldn’t keep pace.
“We stopped moving the ball,” said Deschenes. “We moved the ball pretty well in the first half, and we stopped doing that. We put our heads down. We weren’t seeing the floor. We weren’t making the extra passes. Our sets weren’t where we wanted them to be. Everything went wrong and Piland started to inch away.”
Up 25-20 early in the third, Martin scored on a drive and Tyler Michaud followed with a 3, making it 30-20. The Patriots cut the lead to eight on a Will Shafer basket and made it 32-25 late in the third on a Spencer Harriman 3, but that would be as close as Gray-NG would get.
“It got to 10 and that felt like 20,” said Deschenes. “We had some good looks to knock it down to single digits, but we couldn’t knock them down.”
A Young rebound made it 34-25 after three. Then the Knights used a 10-4 run to start the fourth to build the lead to 44-29.