Before the basketball season started, things were a bit of a mystery.
The Gray-New Gloucester girls’ basketball team had a young team with a new coach and a whole lot of uncertainty on how the season might unfold.
“I was hired in the middle of November,” said GNG coach Mike Andreasen, who replaced Chris Aube, who is now at Westbrook. “They didn’t even have a summer with me. Basically it was here’s your new coach and you have three weeks to get ready for the opener.”
The Patriots had a young promising club. With just two seniors, GNG had a chance to grow into a competitive club in a crowded tourney field in Western B, but it was going to take some work.
“At the beginning of the season, we didn’t know what kind of team we were,” said freshman forward Maria Valente. “We definitely found out. We’re all working together, and it’s a great team effort.”
Andreasen didn’t inherit a team with a ton of varsity of experience but he discovered he had a club that worked hard and was determined to get better. The team has played many of the Western Maine Conference teams tough but are now learning to win.
“Early in the season, we had Falmouth by nine, Poland by seven, Fryeburg by seven,” said Andreasen. “We weren’t closing teams out and now we are. It’s a different team.”
GNG has put themselves in position to earn a playoff berth. The Patriots are currently seeded eighth in Western B and have a chance to return to the quarterfinals for the Western B semifinals. GNG has made the tourney 15 straight years. Being able to maintain that success is exciting for this young team.
“Our hard work has definitely paid off,” said Valente.
Maggie Chaplin and Leandra Grant are the lone seniors on the club. Haylee Cote, Michele Dehetre and Sammie Wilkins are juniors that also played regularly last year.
“We have nine on the roster and we used all nine,” said Andreasen. “They all know their roles.”
The Patriots finish the season with two tough challenges, playing Greely and Lake Region. GNG lost both previous games earlier in the year. Those final regular season games will make for a great measuring stick as the Patriots prepare for the tournament.
“We’re coming together, but we’re not there yet,” said Andreasen. “It will be nice to see where we’re at.”
Right time for Knights
The final three games of the regular season will determine Poland’s playoff fate. The Knight’s are currently 11th in the Western B standings. The top 12 advance.
“The positive thing is that we control our own destiny,” said Poland coach Darren Littlefield. “The toughest part of that is we have games on the road. We finish up at home against Fryeburg but besides that we’re on the road for four of the last five games.”
Poland has only won a single road game this season and have critical games at Yarmouth and at Freeport. The Clippers are ranked 10th and beat the Knights 44-43. Freeport is ranked 12th and lost 63-49 at Poland.
“We beat Freeport already,” said Littlefield. “If we could beat them a second time, that’d be really big.We lost to Yarmouth by one earlier in the year. So we really need the split with them.”
Poland hasn’t been in this position in recent years. The Knights had won just three games total the previous three seasons. The Knights have been building from the bottom of the Western B standings and now have the chance of taking a huge step.
“The fact that we have five wins this year is a reflection of the hard work and the fact that they’ve started to believe in each other,” said Littlefield.
The Knights have just two seniors and have a young nucleus led by sophomore guard Emily Bolduc, freshman forward Michaella Arsenault and junior guard Brittina Maheux.
As the players around them get more seasoning and confidence, the Knights can only continue their improvement.
“Emily Bolduc and Michaella Arsenault are very confident and very skilled,” said Littlefield. “We’re lucky to have them several more years in our program but more kids need to step up on different nights and be supportive of them.”