Julia Babcock of York goes up for a layup in traffic against Poland’s Nathalie Theriault (11) and Alyssa Gagne (12).

POLAND — Friday night’s girls’ basketball matchup between York and Poland felt a lot like it was being played in the Augusta Civic Center.

The up-tempo contest was either team’s game in the first half, but Poland pulled away in the second to earn a 46-40 win.

The Knights had three players finish in double digits, the highest being Nathalie Theriault, who finished with 18.

“It’s an amazing atmosphere and our team is great,” Theriault said. “I just want to keep playing with them, and that’s what goes through your mind, just keeping it going.”

In the first quarter, Theriault scored seven points, including a fast-break layup off a steal at half-court on which she was fouled and converted the three-point play.

Theriault scored often, but her court vision proved to be crucial throughout.

“She does a fantastic job,” Poland coach Tim Dolley said. “She has great vision and she makes her teammates better. She does a fantastic job of seeing the floor, which is great.”

Despite Theriault’s seven points, the first half was in no way a cake walk, as York came out with speed and ferocity on both sides of the ball. York captain Nina Howe scored six of her 10 points in the first quarter while also playing tough, full-court press defense.

York kept up the fight in the second quarter with four different players scoring, including Kristen Leroux tallying four of her nine points.

Poland’s Jessica Seeley scored six of her 12 in the second quarter, anchoring the offense and getting crucial rebounds for the Knights. Seeley ended the half with two consecutive layups to push the lead to four points.

Despite the lead, Dolley knew change was needed.

“I just told them that we need to turn up the intensity because we know York is a great team,” Dolley said. “I thought we did a fantastic job answering on some of the runs that they had and I think that was huge.”

In the third, Theriault took control of the offense by scoring eight points and leading the charge for Knights, allowing them to get some from the Wildcats. This was exemplified when Poland threw a full-court inbound heave to Theriault underneath the basket, leading to an easy bucket midway through the third.

“I think it was about keeping a cool head,” Theriault said. “We always say, ‘Cool heads win hot games,’ and that was a hot game. We did well holding our composure, and that was really important in winning the game.”

York never let up on the defensive end, but the shots started to miss more frequently. The speed of the game was dictated in the second half by how fast Theriault wanted it to go, putting the Knights in full control.

It might have been great practice for what lies ahead next month.

“York is a great team for us to play because it is exactly what it’s going to be like during playoffs,” Dolley said. “Up and down the floor, transition, and that’s what I told them is that’s exactly what they’ll see.”

Nathalie Theriault of Poland blocks the shot of York’s Jackie Tabora on Friday night. Kristen Leroux goes up for a layup on the fast break against Poland defenders Nathalie Theriault (11) and Jessica Seeley (22).

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