Gray-New Gloucester’s Brianna Jordan, background, gets into position to block a layup attempt by Poland’s Nathalie Theriault during the first half of Friday night’s girls’ basketball game in Poland. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

POLAND — Gray-New Gloucester’s defense was stout in a showdown between the top two girls’ basketball teams in Class B South.

The Patriots defeated Poland 46-26 on Friday to take over the top spot in the region.

“I thought we played a pretty complete game. I was more impressed with our defense,” Gray-NG coach Mike Andreasen said. “Defensively, if you can give up 26 points to a team like Poland, you give yourselves a good chance of winning.”

The Patriots’ defense held the Knights to 10 points in the second half and 15 points over the final three quarters.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well, and that’s the bottom line,” Poland coach Tim Dolley said. “We got good shots, we got good looks at what we wanted, just didn’t know them down.”

Neither team’s offense is afraid to be patient, but both started aggressively, running up the court and scoring quick baskets over the first two minutes.

The lead changed hands four times in the opening quarter. The Knights seemed in control for most of the quarter, and especially when Morgan Brousseau drilled a 3-pointer in the final two minutes to give Poland a 11-8 lead.

But in the final minute, Gray-NG’s Bri Jordan scored in the paint, and Jordan Grant converted an and-one with 7.6 seconds remaining to put the Patriots up 13-11 heading into the second quarter.

Poland’s Nathalie Theriault closed the gap to 15-14 with five minutes left in the second quarter, but Gray-NG finished the half on a 9-2 run to lead 24-16.

Coming out of the break Jessica Seeley scored off a nice pass from Theriault, and Brousseau drew a charge, but the Knights couldn’t get back in the game, as Grant and Eliza Hotham helped Gray-NG build its lead to 12 points, 34-22, heading into the final period.

“I just think we got out of our rhythm and we tried to force a few things, and it didn’t work,” Dolley said.

The Patriots continued to add to their lead, opening the fourth quarter on an 8-2 run before both teams started emptying their benches.

Grant led all scorers with 15 points, Hotham had 10 and Jordan finished with nine.

Hotham has become a defensive stalwart for Gray-NG, and initially started the game guarding Seeley before she picked up a couple early fouls. Then she started contributing offensively.

“That was big for us,” Andreasen said. “What was nice is her confidence was good; she shot the basketball, didn’t think twice, just did her thing.”

“This week I’ve struggled and they told me to shoot with confidence, and as a team we shot with confidence and I think it all affected everyone in a positive way, and I think we all did good,” Hotham said. “We had a good offensive mindset.”

More importantly than anything else offensively for the Patriots is that they only had 12 turnovers in the game, down from the 18-20 they average.

“We went over that just in practice yesterday, and said every turnover you commit is a shot you don’t take, and so you’re just losing points,” Andreasen said. “I thought we played a pretty complete game.”

Seeley led Poland (12-4) with 10 points. Brousseau scored seven, and Theriault was held to five points.

Gray-NG (12-4) moves into first place in the B South Heal point standings and has a chance to pick up another chunk of points against fourth-place Freeport (12-3) on Thursday. But before that is a road game at Cape Elizabeth (6-9) on Tuesday.

“I think we just had a lot of focus going in, and we just move onto the next game now,” Jordan said.

The Knights finish with a Tuesday game at Yarmouth (5-11) before hosting Cape Elizabeth in the regular season finale.

Gray-New Gloucester’s Alexa Thayer, left and Poland’s Jessica Seeley battle for a rebound during the first half of Friday night’s game in Poland. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Gray-New Gloucester’s Eliza Hotham, right, defends against Poland’s Jessica Seeley as she goes up for a layup during Friday night’s game. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Poland’s Morgan Brousseau, left, drives to the basket while being defended by Gray-New Gloucester’s Eliza Hotham during Friday night’s game. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

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