Gray-New Gloucester seniors relish one last chance to compete together

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Gray-New Gloucester seniors, from left, Izzy DeTroy, Alicia Dumont, Skye Conley and Grace Kariotis have been playing basketball together for several years. They have helped lead the Patriots to their second straight Class B state championship game.

GRAY — However challenging the workouts Gray-New Gloucester girls’ basketball coach Mike Andreasen has put the team’s four seniors through over the past four years, they have nothing on Trudi Gillen’s Friday night workouts several years ago.

“It was the hardest practices I have ever have been to,” Patriots senior Grace Kariotis said this week. “We always were doing dribbling drills, always running.

“Now that I look back at it, it really, really paid off.”

Those Friday-night sessions were near the beginning of an odyssey for the four seniors — Kariotis, Skye Conley, Izzy DeTroy and Alicia Dumont — that will conclude this Friday with Gray-New Gloucester’s second straight Class B state championship game appearance.

“It’s exciting, but, like, really sad,” Kariotis said.

It all started in the fifth grade. Dumont, DeTroy, Conley and Kariotis weren’t all on the same team at first, but they soon were, and it’s been that way ever since. Gillen eventually rounded up those four and a handful of other players for practices on Friday nights.

Hoops became a year-round endeavor. The off-the-court relationships varied in fifth grade from “fast friends” (as DeTroy describes she and Conley after Conley moved from Saco in the fourth grade) to acquaintances. But all the time playing, practicing and traveling formed a bond that transcended basketball.

“It’s created my best friends,” Kariotis said. “I never could wish for anything more than them — I have them for anything. It’s so awesome.”

“Us four have been so close forever,” Dumont said. “Our families are really close, too. We’re just one big, giant family.”

After Gray-NG defeated Lincoln Academy in the Class B South final last week, Eagles coach Kevin Feltis said of the Patriots: “There’s five players out on the floor, but it’s really one, because they’re all pretty much the same size, they all seem to do the same things, and they all seem to be able to feed off of one another.”

To Feltis’ point, all four seniors adeptly defend, rebound, shoot and pass the ball.

Conley has the most defined role of the four; she plays the post, but she can still make mid-range jumpers. DeTroy is a forward, but she’ll also take over at point guard when Bri Jordan goes to the bench. Dumont is a shooting guard, but used to be a point guard, and so now can play both roles. Kariotis has always been a shooter, but she can handle the ball as well.

“We’re confident in each other that we can all step up, and we all contribute in different ways,” Dumont said. “So it’s not just one player on the court that we hand the ball to, like everyone scores, everyone assists, steals and defense has definitely been our primary, I guess, feature. We work so well as a team, and I think it’s because we’re so close off the court, too, that we just know each other, know our strengths, know our weaknesses, and that definitely shows when we play.”

All four are captains this year, and they say all four equally share the team leadership role.

“On the court, I definitely think that all of us are leaders at different points,” Conley said.

They lead in different ways. Conley and Dumont are more serious.

“They’re definitely the ones who take charge,” Dumont said.

Kariotis and Dumont — “Alicia and Grace are really, really goofy,” Conley said — ease pregame tension by creating mayhem in the locker room with loud music and dancing.

”We’re very bubbly people. And we just laugh all the time,” Dumont said.

”We’re all very nervous. We go into each game thinking that it can go either way. But, yeah, the music in the locker room definitely calms us down and pumps us up for the games. It’s a team ritual.”

It became an accepted custom during their sophomore year, before a big game against York. Everyone was tense. Dumont and Kariotis cranked up the music.

“Alicia and Grace were kind of going crazy in the locker room,” Conley said, “and me and Izzy were like, ‘Oh, man, this is a big game, they’re pretty unfocused,’ but it kind of helped them loosen up and us loosen up, and we ended up playing a really great game, so we’ve kind of done that since that year.”

Once the game starts, the years of playing together is evident. Perhaps in no way more than their ball movement. With no shot clock to limit them, the Patriots will pass the ball around until they find the best possible shot.

“We always try to make the best play possible,” Dumont said. “So instead of just shooting the ball when we first get it, we always look for the next pass, the better situation.”

”People will be like, ‘Oh, you guys play well together.’ It’s like, ‘We’ve literally just played together,’” DeTroy said. “People are like, ’Oh, you always know where each other are,’ and that’s just because we’ve played with each other so much — like, I know usually where Skye’s going to be, or where Alicia’s going to be, or where Grace is, so that kind of helps.”

When Andreasen took them out of the game with a few minutes remaining in their final home game last month, the four seniors received a standing ovation from the Gray-New Gloucester fans that lasted an entire timeout.

The seniors have been on the Gray-NG varsity team all four years. Dumont played the most as a freshman, while the other three mostly watched and supported her. The Patriots reached the B West quarterfinals that year. All four were key players their sophomore season and helped Gray-NG reach the B West semifinals. As juniors they won the B South title and reached the B state championship game, which they lost to Houlton.

“Last year, we got to states and lost, and I think that kind of left a sour taste in our mouth,” Kariotis said. “And now, we’re like, OK, we want more. So now we’re back here, and we want a win. We don’t want to lose again and end our careers on a sour note.”

Each new step has been eye-opening, and has usually ended in a disappointing loss. But the Patriots have bounced back the following year and exceeded the previous season’s finish. They hope that trend continues Friday at the Augusta Civic Center.

“I think we’re a lot more comfortable because we have the experience and knowledge now of playing in a state final,” Conley said. “It’s not something happens a lot at our school, so we kind of go there and were like deer-in-the-headlights, in a way. It sort of overcame most of us.

“We’re hoping that this year, since we’ve had that experience, we don’t really have that excuse that it’s our first time going there. So we’re hoping to be a little more comfortable.”

Win or lose, Friday will be the end of an era, one that has raised the expectations and elevated the culture of Gray-New Gloucester girls’ basketball.

And for Conley, DeTroy, Dumont and Kariotis, it will mark the end of playing basketball — a year-round activity for several years — together.

“I can’t even imagine, like, not doing anything. It’s going to be so sad,” Kariotis said. “I was talking to them about it, I was like, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do after this.’”

ROLE PLAYERS

The several years of friendship have created roles off the court for Gray-New Gloucester’s Grace Kariotis, Alicia Dumont, Izzy DeTroy and Skye Conley.

All four agree: DeTroy is the mom.

“After practices, or after games, I’m like, ‘Guys, if you’re going to eat on the bus, make sure you wash your hands,’” DeTroy said, “because who knows who has touched that basketball, and I want everyone to stay healthy. No one thinks about that, who touched the basketball before you touched it.”

DeTroy weighs in on the roles of the other three.

Skye Conley

Conley might have the most defined role on the court, but off the court is a different story.

“I like to kind of just be there, just like have fun, but I let them lead the way,” Conley said.

She also is the most likely to completely lose it.

”I would say Skye is the first one to laugh,” DeTroy said. “She laughs so hard she’ll cry every day.”

Alicia Dumont

Dumont is the most energetic one, but she also has a serious side. Maybe not the most street smart, though.

“This is funny, she’ll probably be like, ‘I can’t believe you told them that,’” DeTroy said. “I think one time she went the wrong way down a one-way street. Like, she’s just ditzy like that, but she’s really smart when it comes to school, and she works really, really hard.”

Grace Kariotis

Kariotis has mellowed, but she she’s still one of the hyper ones.

“Actually, when we were younger, she used to be the most energetic,” Detroy said. “We went to this tournament in the fifth grade, and she was staying in a room with me and my mom, and she got a soda from the soda machine and took the label off to pretend it was Sprite instead of Mountain Dew so no one would know why she was up at 11 o’clock, like bouncing on the beds.”

Gray-New Gloucester seniors, from left, Izzy DeTroy, Grace Kariotis, Skye Conley and Alicia Dumont have been playing basketball together for several years. They have helped lead the Patriots to their second straight Class B state championship game. Gray-New Gloucester seniors, from left, Izzy DeTroy, Grace Kariotis, Skye Conley and Alicia Dumont have been playing basketball together for several years. They have helped lead the Patriots to their second straight Class B state championship game.Gray-New Gloucester seniors, from left, Izzy DeTroy, Alicia Dumont, Skye Conley and Grace Kariotis have been playing basketball together for several years. They have helped lead the Patriots to their second straight Class B state championship game.

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