POLAND — Tyler Tracy wasn’t aware how close he came to being a footnote in history until a few minutes after Monday night’s renewal of the Route 26 rivalry between Gray-New Gloucester and Poland was history.

Tracy’s Poland Knights knocked off Gray-New Gloucester, 58-47, to deny Patriots coach Tony DiBiase his 400th career victory. That was a relief to the first-year coach, who picked up his sixth career win instead.

“I’m glad it wasn’t against me,” a smiling Tracy said after being informed the Knights’ win had a little extra meaning. “Not too many people know me yet, so I don’t want to be known as the coach that Tony DiBiase got his 400th win against.”

The game already had significance to both teams, as the Patriots (7-5) currently hold the eighth and final slot for the playoffs in the Western B Heal Points. The Knights improved to 6-6 and are now hot on their heels in the Heals, with one-third of the season yet to play.

Jacob Littlefield led the Knights with a game-high 27 points and 13 rebounds. Jordan Chase added 15 points and seven boards and Jonah Farrington scored all nine of his points in the second half.

But the key for Poland was the team’s defensive effort, which was led by Drew Peterson. The junior forward made Gray-New Gloucester’s Adam Jensen, the Western Maine Conference’s second-leading scorer, work for all 19 of his points.

“Jensen had 19 points, but it wasn’t an explosive 19 like he’s capable of. It was more like a quiet 19,” Tracy said. “Drew Peterson did an unbelievable job defensively on him.”

“Jensen’s a really good player, so we just had to stay in front of him and be aggressive, make sure you switch on ball screens and pretty much just stay between him and the basket,” Peterson said. “I got in his face on a couple of 3’s and he missed them so he didn’t really get in a groove.”

Littlefield got into a groove early, scoring 11 points in the first quarter as the Knights opened an 18-12 lead.

The Patriots missed their first six shots of the second quarter, which allowed the Knights to widen the margin to 10. After DiBiase called a timeout, Gray-New Gloucester went to the hoop more aggressively and pulled to within three at halftime on a bank shot by Jensen and a hoop by Josh Farynaz (17 points).

With practice time limited by final exams and snow days over the last week, both teams showed signs of rust. The Patriots shot 31 percent from the floor, the Knights 34 percent. Poland settled for outside shots to start the second half and missed its first seven attempts, opening the door for G-NG to take its only lead at 28-27.

A pair of Littlefield free throws put the Knights back up for good. They closed the third quarter with a Chase jumper and a Littlefield steal and layup for a 42-33 lead.

“We usually have a nice spark at the beginning of the third quarter that helps us get through the game,” Littlefield said. “Being double-teamed sometimes and triple-teamed at other times is hard. But we just started finding the open man.”

“The end of the third period really hurt us. We turned the ball over a few times,” DiBiase said. “I thought (Poland) played very well.”

The Patriots managed to cut the deficit to five a couple of times in the fourth quarter. But Littlefield converted an offensive rebound into a three-point play to make it 53-45 with 1:40 remaining to put it away.

“Jake was tough,” Tracy said. “He hit big shot after big shot. That’s what he’s been doing for us all year.”


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