GRAY – It was not exactly the way Olivia Ryan wanted to start the basketball season.

After being nagged by ankle injuries last year, the 6-foot senior center from Gray-New Gloucester found herself sprawled on the floor just over four minutes into Friday’s game with an ankle injury.

“I think I was more mad than in pain,” said Ryan. “I did (hurt) ankles last year. I’ve been going to physical therapy. I got them taped. I played with them taped for awhile. Then we weaned off the tape and went to the braces. The trainer tested my strength a couple of days ago and said I was okay to play without tape under my braces.”

Ryan missed the rest of the first half but rode adrenaline and her experience playing on gimpy ankles to help lift the Patriots to a season-opening 56-42 win over Cape Elizabeth.

Cape erased a double-digit lead and were within six points early in the third quarter, but Ryan scored seven of her game-high 16 points in the quarter and finished with 14 second half points.

“It was really sore,” said Ryan. “I wasn’t sure I’d be able to play on it. I think the adrenaline kind of took the pain away.”

Brennan Balfour led Cape with 13 points. Jen Farynaz added 13 for the Patriots while Chelsey Durgin and Ana Danieli each added 10.

After a Jackie Moran basket early in the third, Cape was within 24-18. Ryan came in and immediately had an impact, turning a leaner into a three-point play and 27-18 point lead. Cape got within seven twice, but a Danieli three-point play made it 32-22. After a Balfour basket, Farynaz hit a 3-pointer, Ryan scored in the paint, and Farynaz converted another three-point play on a rebound for a 40-24 lead.

“After I came out, they had to change game plans,” said Ryan, who’s been nicknamed “O-Dog”. “At that point, we changed back to the normal game plan to see what we could do with “O-Dog” back in the game. Once I was back in the game, we worked on what we had worked on all week in practice.”

Utilizing the post game was the theme for G-NG from the start. While Cape turned the ball over on eight of its first nine trips down the floor, the Patriots went inside and got five straight hoops from Ryan, Danieli and Durgin inside.

That strategy soon changed. Ryan rolled her ankle with 3:53 left in the quarter. Durgin helped fill the void with 10 points in the opening quarter but foul trouble quickly caught up to her and forced her to the bench.

“Ryan went out and Durgin got in four trouble and we were a whole different team,” said G-NG coach Harvey Moynihan, who was also missing sophomore Rachel Clement off the bench with an ankle injury.

The Patriots struggled to maintain its momentum and Cape’s offense began to produce. A basket by Lisa Kaplan and three points from Balfour got the Capers within 22-16 before free throws by Brittany Humphrey boosted the lead to 24-16 at the half.

“We showed our vulnerability,” said Moynihan. “Overall, if nothing had gone wrong, we might have blown them out, but we wouldn’t have learned anything.”


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