Gray New Gloucester’s captains’ Skye Conley, front, and Grace Kariotis hoist the Class B Girl’s state championship trophy at the end of the game Friday night at the Augusta Civic Center.
AUGUSTA — The Gray-New Gloucester girls’ basketball team accomplished the seemingly impossible, the seemingly mythical.
A state championship.
“It honestly feels unimaginable,” Gray-NG senior Skye Conley said. “I’ve always described it as seeing a unicorn because I honestly didn’t think it was possible.”
The Patriots defeated defending state champion Houlton 35-31 in the Class B final at Augusta Civic Center on Friday night.
Conley said it took the full Gray-NG squad to claim the school’s first basketball state title.
“I’ve always wanted to be able to be in this moment and win,” Conley said. “And to do that with a 100 percent team effort is something that I feel like you don’t see in most cases. A lot of teams have that one player that really stands out, and for us, all of us work so well together and play defense, play offense together, and that’s really what got us here.”
Sophomore Bri Jordan sealed the deal with a pair of free throws with seven seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. The first one, the front end of a one-and-one, bounced up and then dropped in.
“I was nervous,” Jordan said. “I just took it and the luck went by my side for the first one, and then the second one, I was just like, ‘This will help us get a bigger lead, I can do this,’ and it just went right in.”
Conley scored a team-high 12 points and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. After being shut out in the opening two quarters, she took advantage of a defensive change by Houlton and carried the Gray-NG offense in the second half.
“When they switched to man in the second half, we were kind of more comfortable, we were like, this is what we like playing against, we like playing five-on-five,” Conley said. “It opened up the paint a lot for drives, for post plays.”
Conley scored all eight Gray-NG points in the third quarter, and the team’s first 10 points of the second half.
“She was great for us,” Jordan said. “That’s what we needed to do every game. If we feed Skye in the post, she knows how to finish, she knows how to put on moves, and that’s what she did tonight.”
The Patriots led at halftime, 16-11, which was a bit surprising after how they started the game.
It took them more than four minutes to score. Izzy DeTroy found her comfort zone, the short corner, and swished a jumper that cut Houlton’s lead to 6-2.
Less than 20 seconds later, Jordan picked up her second foul, forcing Gray-NG coach Mike Andreasen to switch Izzy DeTroy to guard Shires star Kolleen Bouchard, who finished with a game-best 16 points.
Bouchard made a bucket soon after the switch, but Houlton didn’t score again until there was less than a minute-and-a-half left in the second quarter, about nine game minutes.
“I think Izzy saved the game for us,” Andreasen said.
“She’s irreplaceable,” Andreasen added. “She does everything well. She’s not our top scorer, she’s not our top rebounder, she’s not our top assist person, but when we need one, she’ll give us any of those things.”
The Patriots, meanwhile, took over the game with an 11-0 run. DeTroy added two more jumpers to bring Gray-NG to within two points at 8-6. Jordan added a basket with 30 seconds left in the period, and the score was tied, 8-8, at the end of the first.
Then Gray-NG’s youth, the Jordans, stepped up. Bri Jordan passed over the top of the defense to freshman Jordan Grant to give the Patriots a 10-8 lead. They never trailed again.
Jordan added a free throw and scored on a drive to make it 13-8.
Houlton’s Aspen Flewelling hit a 3-pointer to end Gray-NG’s scoring run and cut its lead to 13-11 with about 1:15 remaining in the half.
Alicia Dumont ended the half with one of the biggest shots of the game: a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. That re-established the Patriots’ five-point cushion, and they led 16-11 at the break.
“It was amazing,” Conley said. “It really helped momentum swing our way. To go into the half with a five-point lead instead of a two-point lead is huge in a state championship.
“It was just unbelievable. She had the confidence to take that at the end, we got the ball in her hands, she took it, and she made it. It was fantastic.”
Andreasen credited Dumont’s trey with impacting Houlton’s halftime adjustments.
“Alicia’s shot at halftime made the lead five points, and it forced them to go into a man-to-man defense,” he said.
The Patriots stayed in front the rest of the game. The Shires, though, stayed close. Gray-NG’s largest lead in the second half was six points, and in the fourth quarter the cushion was never more than four points.
It was down to 33-31 when Houlton fouled several times to get into the bonus, and send Jordan to the line with 7.7 left.
“The first one bounced up, and I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness,’ my eyes got so wide, and it went in. It was such a relief,” Conley said. “And when the second one went in, we knew we had the four-point lead, it was a two-possession game. That really made us feel more comfortable, especially knowing that we had to play defense at the end.
“Defense has always been our primary thing to go to.”
The Patriots held the Shires to 31 points on 12 of 43 shooting from the field (28 percent). Bouchard scored 16, but Andreasen said that Jordan and DeTroy didn’t let many of those points come easy.
“Our defense won it for us,” Andreasen said.
Friday’s win avenged last year’s loss to Houlton in the state final.
“365 days ago, or whatever it was, they said we want to come back, and we want to finish it,” Andreasen said. “Tonight, it wasn’t easy, but then again, we knew it wouldn’t be.”
“It feels so good,” Jordan said. “I know that we all really wanted this, and we got it. And it’s such an unbelievable feeling. I wish that everybody could have this feeling. It feels so good.”
The Gray New Goucester bench erupts after the final basket of the Class B girl’s State Championship at the Augusta Civic Center on Friday night.The Gray New Goucester fans explode in delight during the final moments if the Class B girl’s State Championship at the Augusta Civic Center on Friday night.Alicia Dumont tosses the ball towards the basket during the Class B girl’s State Championship at the Augusta Civic Center on Friday night.Skye Conley looks to the basket during the Class B girl’s State Championship at the Augusta Civic Center on Friday night.Gray New Gloucester’s Brianna Jordan goes up for a basket during the Class B girl’s State Championship at the Augusta Civic Center on Friday night.Skye Conley looks to the basket during the Class B girl’s State Championship at the Augusta Civic Center on Friday night.Gray New Gloucester’s Brianna Jordan pushes past Houlton’s Aspen Flewelling during the Class B girl’s State Championship at the Augusta Civic Center on Friday night.