BANGOR — Many basketball state finals feature one team that’s more experienced in that environment than the opponent. Thanks to the alternating, north-south host sites, one team is always more familiar with the building, the baskets and the court, too.

It’s always debatable how much those distinctions matter, but they surely didn’t appear to hurt Houlton, or help Gray-New Gloucester, in the Class B girls’ championship on Friday night at Cross Insurance Center.

Perfect from the free-throw line, led at both ends of the floor by sophomore Kolleen Bouchard, impervious to a late run that might have flummoxed a lesser team, Houlton made it back-to-back titles in different divisions with a 48-35 victory.

Bouchard, already a two-time North tournament MVP, chalked up 21 points and 12 rebounds, all on the defensive glass, for Houlton (21-1). She also blocked three shots.

The Shiretowners were 11-for-11 from the stripe, including nine freebies in the fourth quarter and six in the final 1:55.

“We play six players, so Coach (Shawn Graham) runs us all the time,” Bouchard said. “We practice shooting free throws when we’re exhausted, and we know that free throws win games.”

Advertisement

Natalie Hill, one of only two senior starters for Houlton, added 10 points and four assists. Rylee Warman notched nine points and Aspen Flewelling contributed eight.

Houlton, a winner over Maranacook in the Class C final a year ago, returned to its Class B roots after the Maine Principals’ Association stretched the field from four enrollment classes to five. It is the Shiretowners’ fifth ‘B’ title and their first since 1991.

“It’s really unbelievable for the school and the community after all we’ve been through,” Graham said. “The smallest school in Class B. A number of sicknesses and injuries all year long. We’re about six (players) deep. I can’t say enough about this group.”

Gray-New Gloucester (17-5) was making its first appearance in the final since consecutive losses to Mount Desert Island in 2001 and 2002.

The Patriots led 11-9 after a bucket by Alanna Camerl with 5:21 to go in the first half before the Shiretowners surged to a 17-4 advantage over the next eight minutes.

Skye Conley led Gray-New Gloucester with 13 points. Camerl scratched out six. Izzy DeTroy, Bri Jordan, Grace Kariotis and Alicia Dumont were held to four apiece.

Advertisement

Dangerous from 3-point range throughout the season and the South tournament, the Patriots went 0-for-6 from beyond the arc.

“They made more plays. It really looked like the big-game experience, playing on this court, made a difference,” Gray-New Gloucester coach Mike Andreasen said. “Our kids when they were taking those shots looked like they hadn’t been in that situation.”

Gray-New Gloucester didn’t go away meekly, however.

Warman’s 3-pointer on a kick-out from Flewelling beat the third-period buzzer. By all appearances, it was the proverbial dagger. Houlton led by a dozen, 33-21.

Consecutive baskets by Conley pushed Gray-New Gloucester within eight, but Hill broke the Patriots’ pressure and found Bouchard for the beginning of a 3-point play with 5:30 to go.

“Unfortunately for us I don’t think we got the ball inside enough to Skye Conley early,” Andreasen said. “Every time we made a pass, it seemed to go to Alanna, and Alanna’s our biggest post player, but Skye has the most moves.”

Advertisement

Gray-New Gloucester ramped up the pressure even more, leading to consecutive buckets by Jordan, Conley and Dumont.

Jordan and DeTroy steals set up the second and third hoops in a five-second span and made it 38-33 with three minutes left.

“I told them we weren’t settled in our press breaker. We weren’t rotating. We had people in the wrong places,” Graham said. “We had ups and downs. I thought 80 percent we played well other than that one flurry. We got out of sync a little bit when I slowed it down, just to try to get a little breather. I think eventually we quit attacking and played not to lose.”

The Patriots had a chance to get within three after Jordan drew a player control foul, but Warman stole a bounce pass in the paint, coaxed a foul and sank both ends of one-and-one.

Gray-New Gloucester nullified two other steals with immediate turnovers.

“I think it was a microcosm, because we stole the ball twice and gave it away twice with these lollipop passes,” Andreasen said. “We just weren’t able to get it from five down to three.”

Advertisement

Bouchard and Hill each rained down a pair of free throws to cap Houlton’s next two trips.

“We knew we had to stay focused,” Hill said. “We haven’t been in that many situations. Our season has been a lot of 20-point wins. Being here last year and this year, so many games, it really helped out a lot with that experience.”

Houlton jumped out to a 4-0 lead on consecutive buckets by Bouchard. The Shiretowners missed their next dozen shots.

Two free throws by Conley triggered a run of six points, continued by Kariotis and capped by DeTroy’s jumper from the left baseline just inside the horn for an 8-6 Gray-New Gloucester lead.

The pace, and score, favored the Patriots.

“We felt that if we were going to get run out, which could have happened, it would be in that first quarter, and in the first quarter we were actually up,” Andreasen said. “We said before the game if the final score is in the 30s, we think it’s ours. If it’s in the 40s, it’s a toss-up.”

Advertisement

Houlton had three go-ahead shots in the second period. Flewelling drained a 3-pointer to make it 9-8. Bouchard’s left-handed layup provided a 13-11 Shires’ edge. Camerl answered with a putback.

Two baskets by Hill and another from Bouchard in a 40-second stretch, all relatively uncontested, put Houlton in front 19-13 at the half.

“We came out intense,” Bouchard said. “We knew they have a lot of weapons in the post and a lot of shooters. We knew our defense was the key. When we get steals and fast breaks, that’s our bread and butter.”

Gray-New Gloucester committed 15 turnovers and shot 32.6 percent from the field.

“Like the old song goes, ‘Everything you can do, I can do better.’ It seemed like everything we could do, they did better,” Andreasen said. “No regrets. Tonight they just seemed to be a little better in every phase of the game.”

[email protected]

#Tourney16

Complete coverage of the high school boys and girls basketball tournaments includes:

  • Updated brackets for all the classes
  • Live updates from the games and arenas
  • Comprehensive game coverage and profiles
  • Photos and videos from the tournaments

You can find updates on:


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.