The Knights got back into action after the Christmas break and did so with the start of a challenging schedule. After a 47-30 loss to Greely, Poland now plays at Lake Region on Saturday and then play Freeport, Old Orchard and at Fryeburg next week.
“We’ve got four games in the next eight days and they’re all good teams,” Poland coach Mike Susi said. “So we’re going to find out just where we stand.”
The Knights faced a tough test against the Rangers and fell behind early. Greely built a quick 10-point lead in the first quarter and then broke the game open in the second.
“We got a few turnovers to start,” Susi said. “We executed, for the most part, our game plan early. They’re a good team. They made shots. We tried to make someone hit shots other than (Ashley) Storey and they did.”
Storey led the Rangers (5-1) with 13 points. Isabel Porter added 11 while Molly Chapin had seven. Storey had eight of her points in the second half. It was the guard play that hurt the Knight early. Porter, Moria Train, Haley Felkel, Sarah Felkel and Maddie Cyr all hit shots in the first half. Porter had a pair of 3s while Chapin and Haley Felkel also hit treys. Greely set an offensive pace that the Knights just couldn’t match.
“If they’re going to put three people on Ashley, then other people have to shoot,” Greely coach Joel Rogers said. “I’ve got three really talented sophomores and tonight was really their best output in awhile. I thought Isabel Porter off the bench was just outstanding on both ends of the floor.”
Michaella Arsenault led the Knights (4-2) with nine. Nathalie Theriault, Hope Kohtala and Sadie Pelletier each had four.
“When a team is making shots, we can not have this kind of drought on offense, especially when we’re taking 30 or 40 seconds off the clock to get the best shot,” said Susi, whose team was ranked sixth in Western B, one spot ahead of the Rangers. “A lot of credit goes to them for how hard they made us work to get a good shot.”
Greely was coming off solid efforts defensively during the holidays, holding teams like Thornton and Falmouth to under 30 points. Against Poland, the Rangers played mostly zone. The Knights were forced to settle for outside shots. When Poland did get the ball in the middle, Storey was a strong enough presence to force the ball back outside.
“They were at 16 points at the end of the third quarter,” Rogers said. “I’m not really thrilled about them getting 14 in the fourth. We run different variations. We kind of mix it up a little bit. Defensively, we’re really starting to come together.”
It was a slow start for the Rangers. After three quick turnovers and a missed shot, Rogers called a time out, down 2-0.
“Sometimes we get off to a real good start and sometimes we don’t,” Rogers said. “My concern was that since our defense is really good now with zones, people have to run 30 or 40 seconds on a possession to get a shot that they want. That limits our time on the offensive end. So I told them that we have to make it count. We weren’t going to get 40 shots.”
Greely subsequently scored seven straight and finished the quarter with a 15-3 surge. The Rangers shot 6-for-11 from the field while the Knights were 2-for-11.
In the second quarter, Greely hit six of its first seven shots and had the lead up to 18 points. Poland shot just 2-for-7.
“They made us take a lot of time with their length and their quickness on the perimeter,” Susi said. “Obviously Storey is an intimidator in the middle. When we did take it to the middle good things were happening for us. “
Storey, Train and Cyr all scored during a 7-3 start in the second. After a jumper from Maddie New cut it to 22-10, Greely got a jumper from Train and a 3 from Haley Felkel. Chapin scored on a baseline drive that helped build a 29-13 lead by halftime.
Neither team shot well in the second half. Greely was 7-for-20 while Poland was 6-for-20. The Rangers outscored the Knights 7-3 in the third. Storey led the Rangers with eight points in the second half.
“Ashley is so unselfish,” Rogers said. “She didn’t force anything and then she let it come to her and we got some good looks. She’s just a really talented player.”
Arsenault had seven of her team’s points in the second half. Theriault and Pelletier each had their four points in the final quarter.