Poland Regional High School’s Nathalie Theriault, center, drives to the basket between Gray-New Gloucester’s Eliza Hotham (14) and Alexa Thayer during their game in Gray on Thursday. (Justin Pelletier/Sun Journal)
GRAY — Gray-New Gloucester’s two-headed monster was the difference Thursday night when the Patriots faced rival Poland in their home opener.
Jordy Grant scored 24 points and pulled down eight rebounds, all while Bri Jordan played lockdown defense at the other end in Gray-New Gloucester’s 47-37 victory in a WMC Class B South girls’ basketball clash.
“Obviously, we needed to worry about Grant and Bri big time, because they’re their two playmakers,” Poland coach Tim Dolley said.
Jordan and Grant gave the Knights (3-2) a cause for concern early. Jordan scored five of her six points in the first quarter, and Grant scored five. The Patriots (3-1) jumped out to a 9-0 start and led 12-5 after one quarter.
“The first quarter, I think we couldn’t knock down shots, which happens with Gray-New Gloucester’s length, and they play really good defense. I think that really deterred us,” Dolley said.
“Defense is a lot of effort,” Gray-NG coach Mike Andreasen said. “You don’t have to be the most skilled player to be a good defender, you just need to have a lot of heart and a lot of desire, and our kids have those.”
The defensive effort started with Jordan, the Patriots’ junior captain and elder stateswoman. She was tasked with guarding Poland senior Natalie Theriault.
“I think Bri kept her in front of her most of the night and did a good job,” Andreasen said. “And Natalie’s a great passer, too. And I think because Bri was able to keep her in front of her we didn’t have to double, and so everybody got to stay with their assignments.”
Theriault scored the Knight’s first points on a pair of free throws, but she was held scoreless beyond that until the fourth quarter. She didn’t hit a shot until just over four minutes left in the game, scoring eight of her 10 points in the final period.
The Knights had no answer for Grant defensively. She scored six more points in the second, including finishing off a 2-on-1 layup from Jordan in transition out of a timeout.
“Jordy, she’s getting a lot of looks because in transition. And I think a lot of it is she’s just so athletic,” Andreasen said. “She runs well. I think she’s the fastest we got.”
The Patriots couldn’t pull away any in the second, however, and led 22-15 at halftime.
Dolley was hoping his team could come out and chip away within the first five minutes of the third, but the score started going the other way. The Patriots opened up a double-digit lead before five minutes had elapsed, and they were on a 13-3 run when Dolley called a timeout in the final minute of the frame.
The margin was 35-23 heading into the fourth, and it stretched even further before the Knights — led by Theriault and Jess Seeley — narrowed it in the closing minutes.
Seeley led Poland with 16 points, all of them coming in the final three quarters.
“I thought she played a great game,” Dolley said. “She’s just a very, very persistent, works hard, and that’s where she gets a lot of her points, playing in transition.”
The Knights now will try to pick up the pieces after a second straight loss following their 3-0 start. The Patriots, meanwhile, are starting to pick up the pace after graduating the core of last year’s state championship team.
“The kids, really now, since that (season-opening) loss, it was stunned, the kids have played good basketball since then,” Andreasen said. “It’s been the gauntlet. We had York after Lake Region, we had Freeport, now we have Poland. All the top teams. To be 3-1 at the break, we’re pretty happy.”
Poland Regional High School’s Sarah Moody, center, gets her hand tangled with Gray-New Gloucester’s Jordan Grant as Grant goes up for a layup during their game in Gray on Thursday. At right is Poland’s Morgan Brousseau. (Justin Pelletier/Sun Journal)
Gray-New Gloucester High School’s Brianna Jordan (12) puts up a shot as Poland’s Nathalie Theriault, right, tries to get a hand on the ball during their game in Gray on Thursday. At left is Poland’s Lexi Grondin. (Justin Pelletier/Sun Journal)
Gray-New Gloucester High Schhol’s Brianna Jordan (12) and Poland’s Nathalie Theriault (11) jump for the opening tip of their game in Gray on Thursday. (Justin Pelletier/Sun Journal)
Poland Regional High School’s Ally Gagne (12) defends against Gray-New Gloucester’s Alexa Thayer during their game in Gray on Thursday. (Justin Pelletier/Sun Journal)