PORTLAND — If you can’t run with them, or rebound with them, it’s often best to try and keep the ball out of their hands.

Gray-New Gloucester spread things out on offense early, trying to isolate players into favorable matchups and then drive to the hoop, hoping to keep the total points down and hang close with a powerful York club.

It worked, until they started missing. Everything.

Cold shooting plagued Gray-New Gloucester in the first half. The top-ranked and unbeaten Wildcats found their legs, started pushing the ball inside and built an insurmountable advantage on their way to a 55-14 victory over the No. 8 Patriots at the Portland Expo on Tuesday.

“They haven’t lost in over two years for a reason,” Gray-New Gloucester coach Chris Aube said. “We did exactly what we needed to do. We knew we needed to shorten the game up, try to extend them. It just seemed like they had a foot on us at every position.”

York made a habit of pushing the pace of play this season, scoring better than 70 points per game without losing a contest. The Patriots had to do their best to slow the Wildcats down.

“They did a good job at first and we had to make some adjustments,” York coach Rick Clark said. “We sagged off of them a little bit and started defending that better, and it shut them down.”

Things started well for Gray-New Gloucester, which trailed by three early. But the layups — there were three nearly uncontested in the first five minutes — wouldn’t fall.

“We got the shots we wanted; they just wouldn’t fall,” Aube said. “It seemed like we didn’t capitalize and then boom, they came down and scored.”

“Those are probably the easiest looks we’ve given up the last half-season and they just couldn’t get them to fall,” Clark said.

York took over from there. Nicole Taylor scored four of her 17 in the opening frame, and Stephanie Gallagher added four of her 10 to help the Wildcats push the first-quarter lead to 10-1.

Gray-New Gloucester was 0-for-7 from the field in the first, and only slightly better in the second at 1-for-5. That one was a 3-pointer from Alicia Valente, which cut the lead to 12-5. The Patriots were also 3-for-8 from the line in the opening half. York, meanwhile, closed out the first half on a 17-1 run.

“I’ve always got confidence the defense is going to play well, and if we can hold defensively, we just wait for the offense to kick in,” Clark said.

The second half produced much of the same for both sides, amid adequate subbing. The Patriots finished the game shooting 4-for-29 from the field (with two 3-pointers) and 4-for-11 from the line.

York advances to play Greely in the Western B semifinal round.


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